About the National Oral Health Alliance
Australia is generally an affluent and healthy nation. However its adults have very poor oral health in comparison with other OECD nations, and the state of its children's dental health is deteriorating.
The National Oral Health Alliance (NOHA) is a group of consumer, dental and general health organisations that have come together to support action by governments and professional bodies to improve oral and dental health in Australia.
The immediate focus of the NOHA's work is to improve the situation for those who currently have particularly poor dental health, due largely to their inability to obtain timely and affordable oral care. Generally speaking these are children, young people and adults (including older Australians) who are in low income families, in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities, and/or living in rural and remote areas of the nation.
In the longer term the NOHA wants to contribute to an irresistible community of interest for better and more equal oral health. It ought to be a case of 'A healthy mouth for all Australians’.
The ultimate goal is a universal scheme for oral health in Australia. This should be accompanied by a greater focus on oral health promotion, including through public health measures relating to fluoridation and food and nutrition.
NOHA's structure and membership
The core group of organisations in the National Oral Health Alliance are united in two beliefs. The first is that something can and should be done immediately to improve the dental health of groups of people currently disadvantaged. The second is that, as soon as possible, a wealthy and egalitarian nation like Australia should have a system of universal dental care. This longer-term aim would be met by bringing oral health care into Medicare, or by establishing an equivalent and parallel system: 'Denticare'.
The core group have all signed on to the core principles of NOHA. Good oral care should be available to every individual, through private and/or public services. Government should invest in oral health, particularly through public oral and dental services. School dental health services are particularly important and must be sustained and expanded.
Individual member bodies in NOHA are free to opt out of any particular statement or campaign as they see fit.
In addition to NOHA's core members or steering group, the NOHA welcomes other organisations and individuals to sign on as NOHA Supporters. A current listing of Supporters is maintained on this website.
NOHA is a collaborative of like-minded national bodies. It is not incorporated. Secretariat support for the NOHA is provided on a case-by-case and pro bono basis by core members. There are no fees levied for membership of NOHA nor for the status of NOHA Supporter.
The core members are listed here.
To become a NOHA Supporter, click here.
What the NOHA does
The NOHA prepares background position papers for agreement by its members. These provide the basis for a range of action, which might include:
- social media activity;
- targeted letter-writing (eg to Ministers and Shadow Ministers);
- issuing media releases in NOHA's name;
- arranging for co-ordinated action on a particular issue by individual member bodies;
- meetings with policy makers, researchers and decision makers;
- desk research and assembling data and information from experts; and
- writing pieces for online or other publications.
The inequality in oral health status between population groups in Australia is a serious health and social issue - one that is entirely preventable. To improve the situation requires commitment, workforce planning, policy development and significant financial investment. However the costs of not doing this will be far greater in terms of lost economic opportunities, avoidable health expenditures and personal pain and unhappiness.
The Commonwealth can and should lead on the changes required, acting collaboratively with the States and Territories. One of the general results would be reduced inequity and improved access to services. The Commonwealth's focus should be on prevention of oral disease, targeting groups at high risk, as well as early intervention and treatment. This would rapidly reduce the number of avoidable hospitalisations due to dental pain and emergencies, including among children.
Workforce measures are needed for a better distribution of oral health professionals (including dentists) across the nation, in particular its rural, regional and remote areas. The rural workforce challenge is substantial and will need policy responses and research, as well as targeted workforce programs.
Regular and timely access to oral health services must become uniformly available to all Australians. Currently around 7 million Australians report that they delay or go without dental treatment for reasons of cost and service availability.
For additional information about the current situation with oral health in Australia, see the Facts on dental health section of this website.
Become an NOHA Supporter: here