State and Federal Governments should implement policies that facilitate a range of services and
service delivery mechanism that enable citizens to remain independent, safe and healthy in their own
homes for as long as possible
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) welcomes the opportunity to
provide its response to the National Disability Insurance Agency’s Discussion Paper - Towards Solutions
for Assistive Technology.
The Academy has identified that technologies can play a major role in reducing healthcare costs when
they are socially accepted and widely adopted. Such technologies can also enhance Australia’s economy
if they are developed from a strong Australian industry base which draws on world-class research and
development (R&D). To deal effectively with changing demographics and patterns of disease, Australia
must develop and deploy advanced technologies that are effective across all the population, including the
aged and people with disabilities.
Healthcare must be effective and affordable, and assistive technologies (AT) have the potential to improve
health outcomes and quality of life, reduce healthcare costs and offer solutions for independent living,
particularly for the aged and people with disabilities. The rapid national large scale deployment of AT is
essential if the growth in healthcare costs is to be contained, to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation and
enable self-management of health.
Central to the deployment of AT is the need to develop policies and funding mechanisms to support
efficient home services and the widespread use of AT. This could bring significant cost savings to both
State and Federal Governments and health and age care consumers. Policies and funding models are
needed that are consistent, robust, and auditable, long term and directed to those most in need.
Advancing technological solutions for a healthy Australia has been a focus of ATSE activities for a number
of years. In July 2014, ATSE published a Position Statement on Health Technology and three Action
Statements that set out key priorities for the development and application of health technologies. These
Statements are attached for your information.
The ATSE Action Statement ‘Deploy Assistive Technologies to Improve Quality of Life’ provided four
recommendations for action to enhance development, deployment and wide spread use of AT:
The Action Statement was based on earlier major studies by ATSE, and in 2010, ATSE published the
report Smart Technology for Healthy Longevity which surveyed the field in Australia and overseas and
which put forward nine recommendations to enable greater knowledge and uptake of health associated
benefits of health technologies in Australia. This report highlighted that national coordination is essential to
make optimum use of the available resources, that Australian business and industry need to be alerted to
opportunities for commercialisation of outputs from technology, and that continuous R&D support is
Most recently, in 2014, ATSE conducted an interdisciplinary research project Assistive Health
Technologies for Independent Living on behalf of The Australian Council of Learned Academies. This
report is attached for your information. The key findings from the report highlight a number of factors for
healthcare delivery based on the use of AT, such as:
Several members of the Assistive Health Technologies for Independent Living Expert Working Group
alongside others are forming a national network named the Smart and Enabling Technologies for
Independent Living (SETIL), to support technology development and uptake in the disability and aged care
sector. The network will be an industry-led collaboration that facilitates and promotes the adoption of
smart and emerging technologies for independent living. The Steering Committee includes two ATSE
Fellows, Professor Greg Tegart AM FTSE and Dr Erol Harvey FTSE, and SETIL will also be submitting a
response to the NDIA Discussion paper.
The Academy is pleased that other groups also acknowledge the role that technology has to enable
healthy living, and believes that this is an area which requires an interdisciplinary network of individuals
and organisations to coordinate their efforts to ensure the needs and wants of end-users is met.
Currently, there are very limited mechanisms for bringing together stakeholders across a range of sectors,
and the inclusion of networks within your discussion paper is commended. The Academy would welcome
a meeting to discuss its recent work and to explore opportunities to benefit the health and wellbeing of all
Enhancing Australia's prosperity through technology and innovation