Forum to highlight broadband benefits to Indigenous health


Research fellow Marianne St Clair shows how her smartphone can be used as a diagnostic tool

Research fellow Marianne St Clair shows how her smartphone can be used as a diagnostic tool

A Charles Darwin University researcher will discuss the importance of broadband as a ‘game changer’ in remote Indigenous health service delivery as part of a forum this week.

CDU Northern Institute research fellow Marianne St Clair will join other experts to discuss the advances in connectivity and digital inclusion in regional, rural and remote Australia at the Broadband for the Bush Alliance Forum VII.

Ms St Clair said telehealth - the use of video conferencing - had been a ‘game changer’ in remote Indigenous health service delivery.

“By utilising pictures from the internet, the supervising GP can clearly show patients and families what the problem is and the treatment required,” Ms St Clair said.

“Telehealth means less confusion, better diagnosis and triage, and faster turnarounds - it has helped ‘close the gap’ in remote Indigenous health.”

She said the technology had been integral in speeding up the communication process.

“Culturally, decision-making in remote communities involves the whole family, which can take precious time,” she said. “With telehealth, the specialist, clinic staff and the whole family can make a decision within a week and the patient has a much better prognosis.”

Ms St Clair said telehealth meant many patients were able to stay in their community rather than travel to town.

“Clinical staff can treat or investigate conditions under the supervision of the GP, physician or specialists meaning the patient can stay with family, have immediate attention and save on travel costs,” she said.

The forum will include ‘Big Ideas from the Bush’ – a panel discussion moderated by ABC journalist Cathy Van Extel; ‘All things Bold and Beautiful!’ – an overview and progress update from NBN Executive General Manager Gavin Williams; and ‘Broadband impacts and challenges for 2030: Reflections and projections for connectivity, affordability and digital inclusion in Australia’. It will also include the ‘Broadband for the Bush – Telehealth Panel’ featuring representatives from CSIRO, St John Ambulance, Laynhapuy Homelands Health Service and Katherine Hospital.

The Broadband for the Bush Forum will be held from June 7 – 8 in the Mal Nairn Auditorium, CDU Casuarina campus.  For more information visit W: www.broadbandfor

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