Public Dentistry

The Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch (ADAVB) advocates for equitable employment conditions for public sector dentists. We fund expert industrial advice and representation for members in enterprise bargaining negotiations.

The ADAVB actively advocates for ways to improve public oral health, including increasing government funding to the public dental sector to:

  • Increase the capacity for service delivery and reduce waiting times to access public dental care
  • Update public dental infrastructure
  • Provide an equitably employed and sustainable dental workforce.

Respect public dentistry campaigns

The 2016 campaign

In 2016, the ADAVB and Professionals Australia (PA) formed an alliance to help community clinic dentists seek fairer working conditions. At the time, public dentists in Victoria were paid up to 40 per cent less than their interstate colleagues. In this early campaign, the ADAVB and PA helped community clinic dentists to seek a fair outcome to their enterprise bargaining negotiations with their employers, and aimed for comparative employment conditions to hospital employed dentists.

What we achieved:

  • Base salary increases to bring community dentists up to the same level as hospital employed
  • Sign on bonus
  • Specific provisions for meal breaks
  • Improved classification and progression scheme for community dentists
  • Optional over agreement payments
  • Renegotiation terms to set the scene for the next round of negotiations.

The 2017–2019 campaign

Victorian enterprise agreements for public dentists, public dental specialists, and public dental specialists in training expired on 30 June 2017. The next phase of the EBA campaign, which commenced in 2017, focused on EBA negotiations, with the aim of a single outcome for all dentists and specialist dentists in the public sector regardless of where they work.  

Some of the entitlements that the ADAVB and PA lobbied for and achieved include:

  • Pay increases of six per cent per annum in the first two years and three per cent per annum in years three and four of the agreement
  • Back-pay to 1 July 2018 based on salary increases provided in the agreement
  • $2000 for reimbursement of ADAVB membership and CPD training costs (pro-rata for part-time employees, not payable to casuals)
  • $2000 sign on bonus (pro rata for part-time employees, not payable to casuals)
  • 12 weeks paid parental leave. 

In May 2018, an initial offer was made after months of frustrating negotiations. This offer was rejected by ADAVB members across the hospital and community health sectors. A vote was conducted to pursue protected industrial action and community involvement, meetings and lobbying continued with members of parliament.

In June 2018, thanks to this effective action, an in-principle agreement was reached for dentists and dental specialists employed in public hospitals. Formal EBAs were drafted, approved by employees and lodged with the Fair Work Commission in October 2018 and January 2019.

In September 2018, following ongoing industrial action, effective targeted advocacy and the united voice of ADAVB members, funding was finally secured for a mirror agreement for community dentists, in line with hospital dentists in Victoria. However, this was not to the end of negotiations for community dentists, and industrial action persisted throughout 2018 and 2019.

Current status of EBAs

We persisted with EBA negotiations for community health-employed dentists for more than two years, and two EBAs covering only seven out of 18 community health centres were filed with the Fair Work Commission in January and March 2019.

Following frustrating delays in resolving funding issues affecting a further 11 community health centres, and ongoing effective advocacy by the ADAVB and Professionals Australia, in September 2019 we were finally able to announce that all dentists at all Victorian public sector dental clinics are covered by the new EBAs.

The new EBAs

We encourage public sector members to familiarise themselves with entitlements in the new EBAs. Refer to the FAQs below:

Ongoing activities: Implementation and monitoring

The ADAVB and PA continue to work with the employer’s bargaining representative to implement these EBAs. We are also monitoring the sector to assist members to access their full entitlements.

Public sector members who have queries about their EBA entitlements are encouraged to review the above FAQs and discuss the matter with their employer. If this does not resolve your query, please contact the ADAVB Policy and Research Team for a discussion: ph: 03 8825 4600, e: advocacy@adavb.org.