A new research hub will be established in Victoria to develop personalised ‘smart home’ technology for people with disability.
The Government will invest $3 million to launch the Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living at Deakin University in Melbourne.
Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, launched the hub alongside Minister for Housing, Michael Sukkar and says the hub will address the growing demand for personalised, practical care in the home.
“This hub will develop new technologies that will improve the quality of life for Australians that need support to stay in their home, from young adults living with disability, people recovering from brain injury, through to older people in our communities,” Mr Tehan says.
He says the Government, universities and private sector are working together to fund and establish research hubs that address critical issues facing Australia today.
Minister Sukkar says Australians should be supported to stay in their homes and the research hub would allow this through improved safety monitoring and reduced rehabilitation times.
Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University, Professor Iain Martin, says the hub will address the needs of high-quality disability and rehabilitation support, as well as supporting the ageing population.
“We will be developing effective, affordable and safe in-home and in-residential care solutions, such as smartphone technology to support the mental health of elderly people and avatar learning tools to improve care for people with dementia,” Mr Martin explains.
Director of Media and Communications at People with Disability Australia, El Gibbs says although a welcome initiative, the technology needs to make certain considerations in order to improve the lives of people with disability.
“New technology can increase accessibility, but needs to have the rights and freedoms of people with disability at the heart of future developments,” Ms Gibbs says.
“Automation, such as smart home technology, needs to be implemented with a degree of caution, as there is considerable potential for that technology to violate our rights.
“Who has access to the controls of the smart house, and how much say do people with disability have over what those controls do?
“For example, some smart home developers say that they can be used to decide when a person with disability can leave the house – this is a retrograde step and does little to further our full inclusion in the community.”
The Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living is funded through the Australian Research Council.
For more information about the hub, click here..