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‘Optimal ageing’ training centre granted federal funding boost

Earlier this week the Australian Research Council (ARC) awarded Monash University $4.8 million in funding to develop a new training centre for optimal ageing. 

The centre will focus on developing emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, digital health apps, and sensors to improve and maintain overall quality of life among the elderly.

Students and academics from engineering, health, data and information technology faculties will work in partnership with industry partners and community organisations. 

“Our approach is to shift from a reactive to a proactive model of ageing, from the diagnosis and treatment of isolated diseases of ageing to a more complete, preventative and consumer-empowered system,” said training centre director, associate professor Yen Ying Lim.

Digital innovation has been recognised as a leading solution to address the needs of the growing ageing population. By 2060 it is predicted that almost a quarter of Australians will be over the age of 60.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in aged care settings has been an increasing point of interest, with emerging technologies being used by providers to prevent falls, provide companionship or to detect mental distress. 

Future graduates in the health and technology sector will require extensive training in order to develop the capabilities to learn, use and improve these digital tools, according to researchers.

"Central to this shift will be our use of cutting edge advances in data analytics, AI and human-machine interaction,” said Professor Joanna Batstone, director of the Monash Data Futures Institute.

“This will help configure and develop innovative approaches to the design, implementation and delivery of technologies and sociotechnical systems that respond to industry and unmet needs focused on ageing well.”

Following the royal commission, the government has accepted recommendations calling for more investment into the digital transformation of the health sector.

Education Minister Alan Tudge announced last week that a total of $74.4 million will be allocated towards opening 16 new training hubs and research centres, many of which are aimed at improving biomedical technology.

“They will ensure we are getting the most out of our world-class research while transferring that information into real-world outcomes that will help our post-Covid economic recovery and strengthen our nation,” said Tudge.

“The training centres will also equip our future generation of researchers by giving students and postdoctoral researchers practical skills and experience through industry placements.”

The ARC Training Centre for Optimal Ageing is expected to work closely with the Monash National Centre for Healthy Ageing and the Rehabilitation and Ageing and Independent Living (RAIL) Research Centre and will run until 2025. 

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