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Keywords:

  • Australia;
  • evidence;
  • legislation;
  • New South Wales;
  • policy;
  • Water fluoridation

Abstract

The State of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has over half a century of experience with water fluoridation. Yass was the first town to be fluoridated in 1956 and Sydney in 1968, and by the late 1970s, approximately 90% of NSW was fluoridated. However, since then, there have been no new fluoridation schemes. In NSW under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957, the decision to fluoridate rests with local government authorities (councils). Since 2004, the NSW Health Department has been proactive in promoting and extending water fluoridation to unfluoridated rural communities in an attempt to reduce oral health inequalities. This has resulted in 20 councils implementing fluoridation, increasing population coverage of water fluoridation from 90% in 2004 to 96% in 2012. When the remaining 16 councils that have been gazetted to fluoridate implement fluoridation, approximately 98% of NSW residents will have access to fluoridated water. This article provides an overview of the framework used to extend water fluoridation to many rural communities in New South Wales in the 21st century.