MELBOURNE : Australian state health ministers have decided to allow dentists from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Africa to practise in rural public clinics where patients are waiting up to three years for treatment, The Age newspaper reported on Monday.
The move comes as the Australian dental profession calls for more Canberra funding to train local workers.
Melbourne University's head of dentistry Eric Reynolds described the shortage as a crisis in the workforce and said Canberra funding had not increased since 1995.
He said full fee paying students from overseas were left to fund the cost of running the department.
But with students taking five years to train, there remained a short-term need for dentists for public clinics, where the pay was lower.
Under the new scheme, dentists from the four former British colonies would have to practise for three years in public clinics across Australia with only provisional registration by the dental council.
Overseas dentists would be exempt from a preliminary test but still be required to sit the same week-long clinical examination as other foreign dentists (apart from the UK, Ireland and New Zealand) to gain full registration.
The foreign dentists who came to Victoria on provisional registration would be sent to rural clinics, according to the State Department of Human Services.
All five of Victoria's 34 public clinics without a dentist were in the bush, the department said.
The shortage allowed Australian practitioners to pick and choose when and where they worked, according to Richard Hart, who runs a national job agency for dentists.
Dr Hart said he had 350 jobs on his books that he could not fill. - CNA
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"