Overseas dentists accepted for 'non-existing demand'

DENTISTS from overseas countries with dental workforce shortages are being imported to Australia to meet a non-existent demand, according to the federal president of the Australian Dental Association.

The ADA's Dr Karin Alexander said recent figures, released by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia, had confirmed there was a major oversupply of graduate dentists in the dental workforce.

Dr Alexander said the association had been calling for a major health workforce study to be completed, but it had not been done.

"Therefore, without knowing with any certainty what the demand for dentists is in the community, governments have invested substantial funds in training new dentists yet have also permitted a very high number of overseas trained dentists register as dentists here," Dr Alexander said.

"It is illogical and economically unsound of government to invest so much money in the education of dentists, only to have them take up employment in less skilled roles."

Figures from the latest Grad Stats publication, released earlier this month, revealed that while traditionally full time work placements for dental graduates has sat around 94%, it dropped about 4% to 83.6% last year.

Dr Alexander said while Australians had always welcomed overseas skilled workers, many were coming from countries with workforce shortages in the dental industry.

"Australia is accepting dentists from countries that have dentist workforce shortages to meet a demand that does not exist in Australia," Dr Alexander said.

"If Australia is going to invest in training here, then surely it should ensure that those graduating, as a consequence of that investment, have a role to play as dentists in the community."

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