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Clever Networks: improving the quality of life in Australian communities.



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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Media Release

Media Contact: Katherine Meier 0417 441 141 www.minister.dcita.gov.au

124/07 Thursday 30 August 2007

Clever Networks: improving the quality of life in Australian communities

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, announced today six projects under the second round of the $113 million Clever Networks program.

“These projects are aimed at improving health and local government services in regional and remote areas.

“The Clever Networks program is continuing to deliver funding that enables better delivery of health, education, government and emergency services in regional, rural and remote Australia through innovative broadband services,” Senator Coonan said.

“This program encourages economic growth, increases productivity, fosters innovation and improves the quality of life in Australian communities.”

Round Two projects, include:

• $5.2 million for the Loddon Mallee Virtual Trauma Care Unit project to install videoconferencing units connecting Bendigo, Echuca, Swan Hill and Mildura regional hospitals with base hospitals in Melbourne. This will allow metropolitan trauma specialists to provide ‘virtual’ consultations with doctors in emergency rooms across the Loddon Mallee region of Victoria.

• $9.3 million for the Bush Medivac Western Australia project to implement interoperable data networks to enhance the communications and coordination capabilities of all major health and emergency services in the state. This will make a significant contribution to Western Australia’s ability to respond to emergency incidents and health crisis situations in regional and remote areas. This project builds on a Round 1 proposal and also dovetails with the following proposal.

• $2.7 million for the eHealth for Remote Australia project for an electronic medical record system providing essential patient information. This will allow the Royal Flying Doctor Service to provide better primary health care for up to 750,000 Australians living in remote and isolated areas of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

• $6.4 million for the ShiresNet project to establish shared information and communications technology service infrastructure for the Northern Territory’s nine new shire councils. This will deliver recurrent cost savings to the Northern Territory Government and shire councils as well as provide better services for residents across the Northern Territory.

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• $3.1 million for the Enhancement of Telehealth in Western Australia project to enable improved health service delivery for up to 454,740 residents in regional, rural and remote communities across the state, including more than 44,900 Indigenous Western Australians. This will address problems such as low life-expectancy and retention of health professionals in remote communities of the state.

• $3 million for the Clinical Outreach - Hunter New England project to provide greater access to advanced clinical applications to an additional 23 health facilities in the New England region. This will promote better health outcomes for residents of the region by improving communication, minimising treatment delays and supporting clinical practice. It also brings the total number of New South Wales hospitals and health facilities that are benefiting from the program to 138.

Senator Coonan said these six projects build on the 16 announced in April under Round 1 of the Clever Networks program.

“In total, the 22 successful projects in the Clever Networks Innovative Services Delivery element are valued at $219 million, which includes an Australian Government contribution of $78.5 million.

“As a result of the collaborative nature of the program, the Australian Government funding of $29.5 million under Round Two will generate additional funding of $53.5 million in contributions, making a total value of $83.1 million for the six projects.

“The Clever Networks program represents an important part of the Australian Government’s strategy to use next generation telecommunications infrastructure to underpin innovation and the smarter delivery of essential services,” Senator Coonan said.

Funding for each of the projects is provided subject to the successful negotiation of a funding agreement.

Further projects under round two of Clever Networks will be announced shortly.

Details of the projects announced today are available at: www.dcita.gov.au/clevernetworks