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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh
    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR ORAL HEALTH IN QLD

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier
    The Honourable Anna Bligh

    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR ORAL HEALTH IN QLD

    South East Queenslanders can look forward to healthier teeth with fluoridated water now a reality, Premier Anna Bligh said today.

    Ms Bligh said the region’s major water treatment plants are now providing an ongoing, around the clock supply of fluoridated water.

    This means fluoridated water will be flowing into taps of almost 80 per cent of South East Queensland households from today.

    “The introduction of fluoride into the State’s water system marks the biggest single advance in the oral health of Queenslanders,’’ Ms Bligh said.

    “Queensland’s level of tooth decay is the worst in the nation with tooth decay affecting 50 percent of Queensland children by the age of six.

    “Today we start reversing this unnecessary statistic.

    “Today we start delivering on our commitment to provide fluoridated water to 80% of South East Queensland by the end of this year.

    The first phase of the South East Queensland program included upgrades to water treatment plants at Mt Crosby and North Pine covering Greater Brisbane; Landers Shute on the Sunshine Coast; and Molendinar and Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast. The second phase of upgrading the remaining South East Queensland plants will be complete by the end of 2009.

    The South East Queensland rollout is part of the State’s $35 million commitment to providing fluoridated water to the vast majority of Queenslanders by 2012.

    Ms Bligh said while South East Queenslanders will be the first to benefit, the roll out to the rest of the State is well underway.

    “Until today the vast majority of Queenslanders were not sharing in the recognised benefits of fluoride realised by other States such as New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania,’’ she said.

    “Over the next four years the spread of this initiative means that 90 per cent of Queenslander’s will receive fluoridated drinking water.’’

    Health Minister Stephen Robertson said while there was some minority opposition to fluoride, any suggestion fluoridation posed a health risk was grossly unfounded.

    “Queenslanders can be very secure in the knowledge that fluoride is not only safe, but a key ingredient to good oral health,’’ he said.

    “There have been numerous studies and subsequent reviews which have confirmed the safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation in reducing dental decay for the whole population.

    “The National Health and Medical Research Council is among many expert organisations worldwide who have dispelled myths associated with water fluoridation including bone fractures, allergies, cancer or other adverse health effects.

    “Water fluoridation has been practised around the world for more than 60 years and is endorsed by the World Health Organisation, Australian Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia and American Academy of Paediatrics.”

    Mr Robertson said Queenslanders of all ages would benefit from the fluoridation of water supplies across the state.

    “People of all ages who still have natural teeth will benefit from having access to fluoridated water as fluoride immediately acts to strengthen the outer surface of the teeth, making teeth stronger and more resistant to decay.’’ Mr Robertson said.

    “Children particularly benefit as soon as their teeth are formed and elderly people will keep their teeth for longer as fluoride reduces the chance of developing tooth decay,”

    Mr Robertson said fluoride would be rolled out across Queensland over the next four years

    In 2009, fluoridation will occur in the remainder of South East Queensland water treatment plants, the Gold Coast Desalination Project, and in Indigenous communities. It will start in Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

    In 2010, fluoridation will be completed Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Rockhampton, the Fraser Coast, Gympie, South Burnett and Southern Downs. Work will continue in Toowoomba.

    In 2011, fluoridation will occur in Blackall-Tambo, Central Highlands, Dalby, Goondiwindi, Hinchinbrook, Longreach, Mount Isa, Murweh, North Burnett, to the Rio Tinto mine at Weipa, the Atherton Tablelands and Whitsunday.

    In 2012, fluoridation will occur in Balonne, Banana, Barcaldine, Bundaberg, Burdekin, Cassowary, Carpentaria, Charters Towers, Cloncurry, Cook, Flinders, Isaac, Paroo, Roma, Townsville, and Winton. Work will be completed in Toowoomba.

    Media contacts:

    Premier’s Office: 3224 4500