Welcome to our August DHCRC Newsletter.

July saw Sydney host MEDINFO23, a blockbuster global conference with well over 2000 attendees arriving from many nations to discuss all things digital and data. This, and the more local Cooperative Research Australia conference held in Adelaide, brought innovators together to share the successes as well as challenges if we are to truly create a digital transformation in healthcare that brings industry, researchers, and government together to build a knowledge economy and a skilled workforce to support a learning health system.

There are so many highlights to share but one personal highlight at MEDINFO was our DHCRC-hosted breakfast that explored how to better integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the design of digital health initiatives. There is a full wrap in the news article below. But it was an emotion-charged, transformative discussion that captured the challenges and the real need to amplify the voices and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in digital health research.

To this end, it was pleasing to see the increased focus on, and funding for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders unveiled in the recently released Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. The report called for greater equity in tertiary education with an immediate recommendation to provide Commonwealth funding for every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander who qualifies for a place.

The interim report also called out the role of CRC’s in helping to encourage universities to move towards research translation and commercialisation and we can expect more detail on this in the final report with the panel: “Considering ways in which university and industry collaboration could be incentivised and promoted further to tackle industry problems”.

I was able to see firsthand the value of the CRC model when I attended the Cooperative Research Australia Collaborate Innovate 2023 conference in Adelaide. There is such a mix of CRC’s doing a wide variety of innovative research, development, and commercialisation. Learning and sharing with peers across different industries only reinforced to me the value of the CRC model and, as one of only two CRC’s focused on the health sector, the opportunity the DHCRC has to make a real difference in the practice and delivery of healthcare.

The consensus of the wide range of panellists, participants, and stakeholders at the CRA Conference was that, while criticism of Australia’s failure to translate research into commercial opportunities might be overblown, there was much still to be achieved. In this we can learn from our key allies and competitors, and how to support the kind of mobility seen in other countries where researchers move freely between academia and business and government as a matter of course. The Conference heard that there was much to admire in Australian Cooperative Research Centres and that the program had enabled the engagement of different perspectives. This has enriched the country’s world-standard research capabilities and developed many effective and fruitful partnerships.

Our lead story in this newsletter features a link to the Digital Health Workforce Census. It is an initiative we are supporting in the hope of getting as many digital health professionals as possible to complete so we can get a true representation of the breadth of the workforce today. We also share details of our response to the Federal Government’s Safe and Responsible AI in Australia discussion paper and are delighted to feature another of our industry partners, Propel Health AI who is working with us on a flagship project with Peter MacCallum Hospital and Swinburn University.

Warm regards
Annette Schmiede
CEO, Digital Health CRC


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