Media statements – Multi-million dollar prize to improve remote … – Media Statements

Media Statements
Hon Stephen Dawson MLC
Minister for Emergency Services; Innovation and the Digital Economy; Medical Research; Volunteering
Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson has officially launched a global search for a ground-breaking solution to deliver quality healthcare in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara.
 
Minister Dawson said ‘The Challenge’ was an exciting opportunity to reimagine technology and find a digital health solution so Western Australians living in remote areas can access quality healthcare services.
 
The WA Department of Health is leading the roll-out of the Challenge on behalf of the McGowan Government.
 
BHP Group Limited, Rio Tinto and the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund have partnered to deliver the $5 million prize.
 
WA’s resources sector leads the way in remote operations technology with companies being able to manage key areas of their sites from thousands of kilometres away, now there is an opportunity to adapt technology to healthcare.
 
The $5 million Challenge is aimed at developing a technology solution, based around research, to improve health outcomes for people living in the far-reaching Pilbara, a region which spans more than 500,000 square kilometres. 
 
Pilbara scholar Yarlalu Thomas joined the launch to share challenges he faced growing up, which led him to a career in health.
 
As WA’s Young Australian of the Year in 2020, he was considering a career in the AFL, but instead turned his attention to study medicine.
 
Mr Thomas is focusing his medical studies on Pilbara faces to better understand 3D facial variation for quicker and non-invasive diagnosis of children with rare and genetic diseases. He is also working on translating medical terms into Indigenous languages internationally and hopes to one day work in the Pilbara.
 
The Challenge is looking for submissions from industry, private sector, public sector agencies, universities, research institutes or collaborations from international organisations.
 
The Challenge winner will need to demonstrate proof-of-concept against an outcomes-based framework and integrate solutions into existing models of healthcare delivery in the Pilbara.
 
Submissions open on 1 February 2023, and close 31 March 2023.
 
For more information, visit the website: thechallenge.health.wa.gov.au

 
Comments attributed to Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson:
 
"We’re not calling for improvements, or adjustments. We need real change – we need innovation that can be utilised and applied to make a big difference to improve the health of all Western Australians living in the Pilbara.
 
"Health outcomes in this region are significantly poorer than those living in the metropolitan area.
 
"We are looking for an outcome which harnesses new technology, deploys digital health to its full potential, and ensures all Western Australians can access the health services they need – and deserve.
 
"The McGowan Government hopes to tap into the greatest scientific minds to solve WA’s biggest hurdle in delivering remote healthcare.
 
"We urge innovation companies and technological solutions around the world to take on our challenge, so WA can improve health outcomes as well as reap countless benefits across other sectors."
 
Comments attributed to BHP WA Iron Ore Asset President Brandon Craig:
 
"BHP has a long and proud history in the Pilbara and we know from experience that quality healthcare in the regions can be difficult to access at times.
 
"The Challenge represents a ground-breaking initiative by the State Government to take world leading technology – which is in use every day at our global operations – and find an innovative solution to improving health delivery in the Pilbara.
 
"Western Australia is a world leader in resources technology and we look forward to seeing these exciting, research-based ideas in practise to ensure improved health outcomes for the Pilbara community."
 
Comments attributed to Rio Tinto Vice President, Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Cecile Thaxter:
 
"Every day at Rio Tinto, we are finding better ways to provide the materials the world needs. Technology has played a crucial role in our innovations to make our operations safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly.
 
"Similarly, technology can play a key role in providing better health outcomes for people living in the Pilbara. We have been operating in the Pilbara for over 50 years, where many of our people live and work.
 
"We are excited to partner with the State Government in finding cutting-edge technology to improve healthcare and build thriving communities in the Pilbara."
 
Minister’s office – 6552 5800

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