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AI funding to upgrade quality in aged sector

Australia's major scientific research organisation has granted researchers from Victoria University over a million dollars to speed up the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in aged care.

CSIRO's funding will go to five PhD projects looking to reduce falls and injuries in residential care, predict dementia, and reduce the risk of age-related diseases.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Partnerships Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos hopes the results of these projects will impact the aged care sector.

"Quality care is important to everyone, including next-of-kin and service providers," he said.

"Using emerging technology to improve older Australians' quality of life and be at the cutting-edge of care and research is at the heart of this project."

CSIRO's funding comes in response to the sector's need to fill job vacancies of over 160,000 AI-savvy workers by 2030.

Apostolopoulos hopes to grow a pipeline of job-ready AI graduates from engineering, social and mathematical sciences by providing scholarships to domestic students.

"The VU has the multidisciplinary expertise and strong industry partner to improve the aged care sector with AI," he said.

Currently, CSIRO is funding twelve university projects worth $10.9 million to innovate technology in Australia across major healthcare and environmental sectors.

The aged care industry has also reached out to AI to up the quality of care, as chronic understaffing leaves has left older people vulnerable.

One of those projects is Talk With Tedan artificial intelligence avatar that teaches aged care workers to communicate better with people living with dementia.

Aged Care Insite also spoke with Vlepis chief Bill Dimopoulos, who has worked on a $1.48 million research project to improve AI in aged care.

"Today's technology is very manual; it's very siloed and haphazard," Dimopoulos said.

"If we target our efforts based on strengths and collaborate with other research teams, we can get the bigger picture outcomes rather than solving problems.

"Then, we can create the tools to improve aged care quality and allow facilities to operate better."

Of Labor's $3.9 billion funding towards aged care, $312.6 million will go towards improving ICT systems over the upcoming four years.

"These promising projects show once again that Australian medical researchers are among the best in the world," the minister of health Mark Butler said.

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