New Centre to support ’optimal’ ageing

By Teju Hari Krishna +61 450 501 248

A new Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre based at Monash University aims to boost research and training to nurture a holistic, preventative and user-empowered system to support Australia’s ageing population.

It is projected that there will be 10 million Australians over the age of 60 by 2060. Many Australian organisations are trying to meet this challenge by developing novel digital and robotics solutions to help older adults continue to thrive and actively contribute to their communities. However, the industry has identified a lack of trained graduates to meet the rising need in this sector.

Launched today by Dr Carina Garland MP, Member for Chisholm, the new ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Optimal Ageing will collaborate with emerging Australian industry and train the next generation of digital health scientists, with knowledge and practical experience in ageing, bioinformatics and data analytics, digital health commercialisation and end-user and stakeholder engagement.

Monash University healthy brain and ageing expert and Director of the new Centre, Associate Professor Yen Ying Lim, highlighted the need to shift the emphasis from the diagnosis and treatment of isolated diseases of ageing, to a more proactive model of optimisation and maintenance of health and wellbeing.

"We need to adopt a more well-rounded view of what it means to ’age’ and how we support people who enter the later phases of their lives," Associate Professor Lim said.

"With better research on emerging technologies like robotics, supporting improved digital literacy for healthcare workers and their clients, and better adoption of digital health delivery systems, we can ensure that older Australians feel less isolated and are an active part of our communities for longer periods of time."

The new Centre will focus on research and training around the main themes of enhancing cognition, promoting independence, and sustaining connectedness by developing and implementing digital, robotics and sensor-based technologies to enrich the lives of older Australians.

Monash University Acting Provost and Senior Vice-President Professor Sharon Pickering said the new Centre builds on Monash’s strong foundations in mental health and ageing, including research from the Monash School of Psychological Sciences , the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health , the National Centre for Healthy Ageing , Monash Robotics and the Monash Data Futures Institute.

"Led by the Monash School of Psychological Sciences and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, the Centre will bring together researchers across three faculties - Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Information Technology and Engineering - to engage with our community and industry partners in delivering new solutions to supporting and enhancing the quality of life of our ageing population," Professor Pickering said.

"The interdisciplinary nature of the Centre and its partnerships with community organisations aligns with Monash’s ongoing commitment towards building thriving communities through the strength of research, education, collaboration and engagement."

Funded for five years with a $4.58 million ARC grant, the new Centre is a partnership between Monash University, Federation University and 14 industry partners in the medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals (MTP) sector, as well as community organisations.

Federation University Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Shane Thomas welcomed collaboration between the two Universities towards the improvement of the quality of life for older adults.

"As a member of the Regional Universities Network Federation is well-placed to provide a greater understanding of the unique healthcare and infrastructure challenges faced by rural populations and help to amplify the Centre’s work and develop appropriate solutions for more remote Australian communities."

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