Dentists removed from Skilled Occupation List after four years of lobbying
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Dentists removed from Skilled Occupation List after four years of lobbying

An oversupply of Australian-trained dentists has resulted in the federal government closing the door to migrants skilled in the profession.

In what has been described as a win for dental graduates currently struggling to find jobs, dentists have been withdrawn from the Skilled Occupation List.

Dental surgeon Dr. Carmelo Bonanno at his Woden surgery. The surplus of dentists has been noticed far and wide.

Dental surgeon Dr. Carmelo Bonanno at his Woden surgery. The surplus of dentists has been noticed far and wide.Credit:Graham Tidy

The list, which is updated annually, allows skilled migration to Australia via the careers listed on it.

However, an increase of new dental schools across the country meant there was no longer a need for qualified dental specialists from overseas.

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The Australian Dental Association had lobbied the government for the past four years to have the profession removed.

Australian Dental Association president Dr Rick Olive said he was glad the sustained campaign had come to fruition as of July 1, when dentists and dental professionals were removed.

"We think this one is a win for the dental profession," he said.

"It was clear to us there is a very significant oversupply of the dental workforce in Australia, we've been aware of that for a number of years."

"There has been somewhere around 300 dentists a year for the last five years come into Australia. Add that to the oversupply coming out of dental schools and new graduates have a struggle," Dr Olive said.

"It's not like if you train as a dentist you can go and work as something else. You've got a very limited skill set; it's not for other occupations."

Canberra dentist Dr Carmelo Bonanno​ said the surplus of dentists had been noticed far and wide, with rural and regional job advertisements attracting an unusually large number of applicants.

"Four or five years ago, if you advertised for a dentist it took a long time, and you may not have gotten any applications," Dr Bonanno said.

"Now, if anybody advertises a dentist position, they're flooded with applicants."

Dr Bonanno said while the profession was pleased with the result, there were other worries to address in the future.

Dr Bonanno also addressed concerns about the recent events in Sydney, where up to 12,000 dentist patients were involved in an infection control scare.

He said Canberrans should feel secure in that the health and safety practises in place in the nation's capital were some of the best in the country.

"I would say we would be at the top of the tree with regards to infection control compliance and guidelines," he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the Skilled Occupation List is extensively reviewed each year, and takes into consideration multiple factors.

The 2015-16 review recommended the inclusion of panel beaters and cabinet makers and the removal of urban and regional planners, dentists and dental specialists.

Kimberley Le Lievre is the Editor of The Sunday Canberra Times

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