THE fluoride debate was reignited at a community forum in Ballarat last night.
About 80 people gathered to witness debate on the fluoridation of Ballarat’s water supply at the Ballarat: A Learning City forum, held at BRACE Education, Training and Employment.
Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership policy and development officer Tracey Wilson told the crowd fluoridation was vital.
Ms Wilson said she had witnessed the difference in dental health between people from Melbourne, where the water contained fluoride, compared to non-fluoridised regional areas of Victoria.
She called on people who supported fluoridation to write to Health Minister Bronwyn Pike.
“I have seen the effects – it’s sad and it’s disappointing,” she said.
“I just think there are significant benefits to the community as a whole by introducing fluoride to the water supply.”
Ms Wilson joined Ballarat and District Division of General Practice advisor Dr Colin Crook and a representative of Dental Health Services Victoria in speaking for fluoridation.
But Ballarat Health Watch member Alwyn Anstis said fluoridation produced side-effects such as skin irritations, asthma and hypothyroidism.
Mr Anstis said fluoridation should never be forced on Ballarat residents.
“I think if there was a vote taken in Ballarat there would be 80 per cent of people against it,” he said.
“I hope people go away from the forum with the message that they have a right to choose.”
Geelong naturopath Philip Robertson and Water Quality Australia founding member David McRae also spoke against fluoridation.
The forum evoked heated debate from the crowd, with one man stating fluoridation was “mass poisoning”, not mass medication.
Ballarat: A Learning City executive officer Judy Verlin said fluoridation had stirred debate in Ballarat for almost 30 years.
“It has always evoked a lot of passion and the debate continues.”
Ms Verlin said the organisation would hold six forums next year, as part of its bid to encourage people to “investigate, participate and celebrate”.
“We would invite the community to contact us if they have any burning issues that they would like us to host,” she said.