FCAV Advocacy Update

Medicare registration

Until recently, many children in care were unable to access Medicare because they didn’t have a registered birth and access to a birth certificate. This was extremely problematic because children in care are high users of medical services because of the impacts of neglect, abuse and trauma.

Following FCAV advocacy with Services Australia and the Department of Families Fairness and Housing a new streamlined Medicare registration process has been developed and is now operational. Registration for children without a registered birth is now a two-step process as follows:

  1. an attempt by Child Protection to obtain a proof of birth document;
  2. a substitute letter on departmental letterhead to be completed (where a proof of birth document cannot be obtained).

Where possible, details about the parents should also be provided including their name, dates of birth and Medicare numbers.The new process is outlined following this link to the Victorian Child Protection Manual. The FCAV has heard from carers that children are being successfully registered under the new streamlined Medicare registration process.


Medicare dental

The FCAV has advocated that all children in care be automatically eligible for Medicare Dental (also known as the Child Dental Benefits Schedule) as part of the review of the Dental Benefits Act 2008 by the federal Health Department. The FCAV’s submission was supported and lodged by the National Foster and Kinship Care Collective.

Children in care have poor oral health with Victorian research indicating that only around 15% of children in care have visited a dentist within the first year of entering care. While children in care are prioritised for access to publicly funded dental services, they may nevertheless, need to go on a waiting list to access those services. Currently, access to Medicare Dental is determined on volunteer carers’ incomes. The FCAV believes that this is fundamentally unfair for several reasons:

  • access to Medicare Dental is currently determined by who the child is placed with not on an assessment of their health care needs;
  • if children change placements they may be eligible for Medicare Dental in some placements and not others even though their health needs are the same; and
  • carers do not have custody or guardianship of children in care and as such their income should not be relevant when determining access to a publicly funded health care services.

The FCAV has advocated that all children in care should be automatically eligible for Medicare Dental because they are a known group of vulnerable children with high oral care needs. The Department of Health is currently considering the FCAV submission.