Bega district letters to the editor, April 21

Trivialising issue

ABC “Council” Radio was at it again this week.

Renewing its headlong charge to irrelevance, ABC Radio could scarcely wait for Easter to be over before assaulting the local community with one of its greatest intellectual offerings: “Tuesday Trivia”.

As if to further evidence the ABC’s efforts to broadcast rubbish and “trivialise” south-east airwaves, it then offered a news item wherein it falsely claimed that council “had withdrawn its support for the Safe Schools program”.

To “fact check” ABC Council Radio’s latest contribution to “fake news”, Council DID NOT “withdraw support for the Safe Schools program”.

The fact of the matter is that council resolved:

“That Council note the demise of funding for the Safe Schools Program in 2017 and write to the Federal Government supporting the retention of a program and requesting continued funding for that school education program aimed at anti bullying measures and support programs for young people, especially those identifying as LGBTQI”; and

“That Council write to the NSW State Government requesting it funds a school education program aimed at anti bullying measures and support programs for young people, in the event that the Federal Government does not fund it.”

Now the association thinks that there is plenty to criticise council about without having to make stuff up and it certainly has no trouble finding issues in that regard.

But notwithstanding the difficulty attached to finding good things to say about council, it does not think it fair that it should be criticised for things it hasn’t done.

Meanwhile, having managed to find someone in the community who knew the name of Canada’s capital, Simon switched feet and sensitively challenged the community to think about the pleasures that would accrue if everyone was able to work only four days a week.

Demonstrating his intimate understanding of the local community, Simon seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that almost half of the community is already struggling to get by on part-time work, while as many as 30% of young people and 38% of seniors have no work at all.

If the best that ABC Council Radio can do is broadcast falsehoods & irrelevant rubbish, perhaps it should do everyone a favour and take its “trivia” on a full-time, permanent holiday?

John Richardson, Bega Valley Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association

Clean bill of health

The Australian Dental Association NSW supports fluoridation as a safe, effective, equitable and cost-effective method of preventing dental decay and urges Bega Valley Shire Council to fluoridate the Brogo-Bermagui and the Tantawanglo-Kiah water supplies for the good of all in the community. Residents without fluoridated water are disadvantaged and should not be denied the benefits that water fluoridation brings.

Water fluoridation has been in the NSW water supply for more than 60 years with Yass being the first town in NSW to be fluoridated in 1956. Over this time, we have seen considerable improvements in oral health and, in parallel, there has been no documented medical side-effects of water fluoridation.

Since the introduction of water fluoridation and fluoride toothpaste, dental decay of 12-year-old children in NSW has declined from nine Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth (DMFT) to less than one DMFT. Recent studies also indicate that children living in areas without water fluoridation have significantly higher decay rates than their peers in fluoridated areas. This evidence led to some 28 un-fluoridated Local Government Areas (Councils) implementing fluoridation since 2005. Currently 96% of NSW residents on town water supply have access to fluoridated water.

The implementation of new fluoridation schemes has provided opportunities to determine the continued efficacy of fluoridation. Contemporary scientific evidence in NSW and

 Australia, conducted against a background of universal availability of fluoride toothpaste, other forms of fluoride, and low levels of decay experience, confirm that water fluoridation is still necessary. This indicates that water fluoridation provides decay-prevention benefits additional to those provided by exposure to other fluoride sources alone.

Water fluoridation benefits everyone regardless of age, individual motivation, socio-economic status or the availability of dental care. It is one of the few public health measures that transcends socio-economic barriers and benefits the disadvantaged. It remains the cornerstone population health measure in preventing dental decay and reducing inequalities in dental health.

Fluoride is not an artificial compound or some sort of medication, but rather a natural substance found in water, soil and common foods, including tea and seafood. However, the fluoride found in the environment is not sufficient on its own to protect your teeth, which is why small supplemental amounts are added to the water supply, as well as into toothpaste and other dental products. 

The safety and effectiveness of water fluoridation is reviewed periodically by authoritative bodies in Australia and internationally. Australia’s peak scientific body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has conducted several reviews on the efficacy and safety of water fluoridation. Draft information from the latest comprehensive review on the health effects of water fluoridation conducted during 2014-2016 reaffirms that:

•          water fluoridation is effective in reducing dental decay 

•          there is no evidence that water fluoridation in recommended levels in Australia is associated with any negative health effects.

No other health measure has been exposed to such scrutiny and been given an ongoing clean bill of health. All adverse claims made by opponents of fluoridation worldwide have been scrupulously investigated by scientists and found to lack any credible scientific evidence. A testament to this is that water fluoridation has been endorsed and recommended by more than 150 scientific, health and political organisations throughout the world. In fact, water fluoridation to prevent dental decay has been rated as one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th Century, alongside the eradication of smallpox and elimination of poliomyelitis, by the prestigious scientific body, the US Centers for Disease Control.

In Australia, water fluoridation is endorsed by the NHMRC, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Medical Association and many other professional organisations.

Dr Sabrina Manickam, President

Australian Dental Association NSW

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