Fluoride supporters and opponents reach out to Gunnedah Shire Council ahead of final decision

OPPONENTS: Members of the 'It's OK to Say NO to fluoride in Gunnedah's Water' Facebook group that are against water fluoridiation. Photo: Billy Jupp
OPPONENTS: Members of the 'It's OK to Say NO to fluoride in Gunnedah's Water' Facebook group that are against water fluoridiation. Photo: Billy Jupp

SUPPORTERS on both sides of the Gunnedah water fluoridation debate are putting their case forward to Gunnedah Shire Council (GSC) ahead of the December meeting.

It was resolved at the October ordinary council meeting that NSW Health would canvas local opinion regarding water fluoridation through mail drops and a feedback website.

Following the October meeting, a Fairfax Media poll revealed more than 64 per cent of voters are against adding fluoride to the water supply. Of the 355 votes cast, 228 were against adding fluoride to the water supply, while 112 voters are in favor of water fluoridation. 

A coalition of 13 leading health organisations and professional bodies, including the Australian Dental Association NSW, and the National Rural Health Alliance, have submitted an open letter to GSC. The letter composed by the organisations urged council to support water fluoridation.

“We write today to express our support for water fluoridation as a safe, cost-effective and equitable public health measure,” the letter read.

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“The signatories to this letter are expert health organisations and peak and professional bodies committed to improving the health of all Australians.”

Fluoride Action Network Australia chair Merilyn Haines said she had been invited to speak to councillors before a decision is made.

“I have accepted an invitation from the mayor to give a presentation to councillors on Wednesday, December 13,” Mrs Haines said.

“This will be before NSW Health provide their report to council so am at a bit of a disadvantage.”

AMA NSW president Professor Brad Frankum said water fluoridation “is an important and safe public health initiative that helps prevent tooth decay”.

‘It’s OK to Say NO to fluoride in Gunnedah’s water’ co-ordinator Wendy Carpenter said it was important to hear both sides of the debate.

“We just want to be considered,” Mrs Carpenter said.

“Hopefully our feelings will be considered at the council meeting.”

Since the October meeting, NSW Health has gathered public opinion via a dedicated website and by mailing letters to ratepayers.

NSW Health will report its public consultation findings at the Gunnedah council meeting on December 20.