MORE than 300 Sunraysia residents learnt about the negative effects of water fluoridation at a public meeting on Friday night.
Hosted by the Victorian Fluoride Action Group Mildura branch, the information session gave people the chance to ask experts questions about fluoridation.
Guest speakers included former president of the Australian Dental Association South Australia branch, Dr Andrew Harms, naturopath Philip Robertson, Peter Hulin from the Victorian Fluoride Action Group in Warrnambool and Anna Michalik who attended the 28th International Society for Fluoride Research Conference.
The State Government has given the green light to the fluoridation of water supplies in Mildura, Irymple, Merbein and Red Cliffs with fluoridation expected to start early next year.
Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, who attended the meeting, said it was an issue causing a lot of debate within the community.
“It’s very difficult,” he said. “We have to try to figure it out from both sides.”
“Most people are probably very quick to bolt to the too hard basket.”
Mr Crisp said he was keeping an open mind.
“I think there’s a lot of food for thought in the debate.”
“It’s a very big issue. It will be interesting to see where it goes.”
One of the major focuses of the 2 1/2-hour meeting was the potential negative side effects of fluoridated water.
“We did learn that like all things in life there are side effects,” Mr Crisp said.
“If the Department of Human Services are going to go ahead with this I think it’s incumbent upon them to provide advice to practitioners about the known side effects.”
“At least then doctors can make a rapid diagnosis.”
Paul Nicolias from Irymple said the meeting was a chance for the community to discuss the issue.
“I think the Government is wrong in not giving us a chance to have any input,” he said.
“It’s not a democracy. We’re being told it’s good for us and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Mr Crisp said the Government should have involved the community in a consultation process.
“I firmly believe the community should be allowed to vote.”