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Draft NHMRC Public Statement 2017: Water fluoridation and human health in Australia submission

This submission reflects the views of
Organisation Name: 
Australian Medical Association
Personal Details
Question 1
Q1. A. The draft Public Statement is presented in a format and manner that is useful, and is easy to read and understand: 
Overarching/General comments on the Public Statement: 

Overall, the length of the document is suitable as a brief overview statement. 

Data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that almost 60 per cent of Australian adults have low levels of health literacy, which can result in a reduced capacity to engage in and understand health-related information[i].  Given this, the NHMRC may wish to consider the benefits of including more visual information that can be more easily digested by readers. 

The single infographic included is concerned with historical background regarding the availability of fluoridated water.  It may be more helpful to include a prominent infographic that draws attention to the importance, and health benefits, of water fluoridation, for those who are questioning its benefits.

The availability of the Public Statement in other languages, or reference to a suitable translation service, would improve the accessibility of the document within culturally and linguistically diverse communities.  Misinformation about water fluoridation may be perpetuated within these communities due to the limited availability of clear, evidence-based information and advice in their native language.

[i] Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2006. Health Literacy, Australia. Canberra. Australian Bureau of Statistics

Comments on a particular section of the Public Statement: 
Question 2
Q2. A. The boxed ‘NHMRC statement’ (page one) in the draft Public Statement is justified and supported by the evidence in the Information Paper: Effects of Water Fluoridation on Dental and Other Human Health Outcomes : 
Question 3
Q3. A. For policy makers, the draft Public Statement provides sufficient information to support decision making in your jurisdiction or local area: 
Comments on a particular section of the Public Statement: 
Question 4
Q4. How could the Public Statement be effectively disseminated?: 
General comments

The Public Statement should be available both online, and in hardcopy, to allow the broadest possible distribution.  

Distribution of the Public Statement should include cultural leaders, schools, parent & citizen committees, community groups, community health centres, and medical and dental practices.  These groups should be encouraged to include reference to the online material in their communications and other interactions with their respective communities. 

The AMA believes that it is critical that, where they have responsibility for water fluoridation, State Governments and Local and Regional Councils are provided with clear, evidence based, and unwavering advice that community water fluoridation is safe, and that it is an important dental health protection measure.  This Public Statement will provide an important resource to support decisions about water fluoridation.

Page reviewed: 9 November, 2017