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World Telecommunications Day 1981



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MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS . LEADER OF THE HOUSE

FOR MEDIA:

World Telecommunications Day 1981

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Sunday May 17 is the day set aside by the International Telecommun­

ications Union as World Telecommunications Day.

The Minister for Communications Mr Ian Sinclair said today that

the theme this year was Telecommunications and Health.

"Telecommunications are an essential part of health care in the modern world," Mr Sinclair said. .

"For years this has been obvious to people in outback Australia

where radiocommunications have been the only link with medical

advice via the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"The Royal Flying Doctor Service which has services in six States

operates one of the world's largest high frequency radiotelephone

networks.

"People in outlying stations can consult a duty doctor by radio and in most cases the doctor can prescribe treatment over the

phone. In extreme cases the patient will be taken to hospital

by aircraft.

"In some cases consultation may be by telephone, such as in Cairns

and Alice Springs.

"Without telecommunications people in remote areas of Australia

would be without any medical advice at all.

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"For many people — the aged, the frail and the disabled — the telephone

is a vital link with the outside world and an essential element of community

health in the broadest sense.

"As well as this, the part that telephones, ambulance, radio-communications

and ship to shore medical assistance services play in emergencies can not

be underestimated. They can make the difference between life and death."

The Minister said that the National Communications Satellite System which

was planned to be in operation in 1985 would have the capacity to greatly

improve telecommunications in remote and rural areas of Australia.

"Because of its versatility, the satellite system will be able to provide

high quality, reliable communications with homesteads and isoldated

communities and confer privacy to health care discussions." The Minister

said "Telemedicine services such as medical diagnosis relying on satellite

transmission of x-rays and electrocardiographs could be one way in which

the satellite system could be used for health care, as v/ell as allowing

access to a wide range of medical data bases. .

Mr Sinclair said a special application of the theme this year was the

efforts of a group of volunteer engineers and technicians from Telecom,

formed into a group called COMSKILL. . .

He said: "They have completed a working prototype of a novel device

which will make.it easy for certain disabled people to make telephone .

calls.

"Known as a digital display dialler, the device can help people moderately

disabled by cerebral palsy, brain damage or advanced cases of muscular

dystrophy and quadraplegics with profound upper limb disabilities.

"The digital display dialler enables a person to "dial" a normal telephone

number, a special emergency number, or up to fifteen pre-set telephone

numbers and to receive calls by using special touch pads," he said.

Mr Sinclair said this and similar ideas v/ill contribute greatly to the

development of equipment bringing the electronic and telecommunications

revolution right to the disabled and disadvantaged, making a real

contribution to the meaning of World Telecommunications Day. ·

"These examples are just some instances in which telecommunications services

are vital to health. It is virtually impossible to.envisage m o d e m health

services v/ithout them," the Minister concluded.

15 May 1981