Wednesday, 4 April saw the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard take the time to meet with Northcott Disability Services Client Ambassador, Shirley Wong and Senior Managers, Lee Carpenter and Liz Forsyth at the Community Cabinet meeting hosted at Macarthur Girls High School, Parramatta.
23-year-old Shirley lives with cerebral palsy. She is non-verbal and uses a communication board, iPad and sign language to communicate.
“Communication devices and technology are so important, it gives independence and allows people to participate in conversations. I first started to communicate using compact picture books, then a typewriter kind of device, then a voice automated device which is called a dynawrite, and now I use an iPad. Technology has come so far, and I have come so far with technology. I’m excited to see the opportunities that will come from the roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN), and what it could mean for me and others with a disability,” Shirley told the Prime Minister.
Shirley, Lee and Liz met with the Prime Minister one-on-one before the community forum to discuss the NBN and the potential this has for people with disabilities, especially those living in regional and remote areas.
With the recent announcement from Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Minister Plibersek, Minister for Health on funding for the establishment of telehealth projects under the NBN, this was a timely discussion as Northcott aims to create an innovative online service delivery model for the thousands of people with disabilities the not-for-profit supports.
“Our goal is to use the NBN to revolutionise the way therapy and support is delivered. It will play an important part in bringing isolated individuals, families and communities together by allowing them to establish formal and informal support and mentoring networks,” explained Lee Carpenter, Chief Operating Officer of Northcott Disability Services.
“Our aim is to establish an online therapy and service delivery model which takes advantage of the new technology available through the NBN, to provide our clients and families in regional areas, who often lack access to specialised support, with more reliable access to experts, in more appropriate settings, for less cost.”
The Prime Minister said that a whole of government approach was needed for the advancement of telehealth and the roll out of the NBN, but she encouraged the concept and further talks with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, so that Northcott could look at piloting these new projects using the NBN. It was also heartening to have Federal Member for Parramatta, Julie Owens present, indicating her interest in helping to further the proposal.
“We’re excited that the NBN will mean we can work with communities in an Australia with no boundaries, bringing us closer to our purpose of building an inclusive society. With access to additional resources, Northcott would be enthusiastic to pilot these innovative service delivery models to make social inclusion a reality for people with disabilities and their families,” said Lee.