Medicare in your living room: Human Services brought closer with the NBN

Thursday, 22 March 2012 11:34am

The Federal Government has this week announced a pilot of a new videoconferencing system which will give access to services such as Medicare and Centrelink from people’s homes. The pilot program is another example of how the National Broadband Network (NBN) could benefit people with disabilities who may have difficulty accessing essential services.

The technology will provide a high-definition video link to Department of Human Services (DHS) service centres via the high-speed internet currently being rolled out nationally. Although not specifically mentioned in the announcement, people with a disability are one section of the community who stand to benefit most from the service.

Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr said that the pilot “will be particularly beneficial for people in regional locations or families and customers facing social disadvantage who may find it otherwise difficult to get to a DHS Service Centre”.

Senator Stephen Conroy, the minister responsible for the NBN, said that such services benefit both the Government and DHS customers. “The NBN will enable us to put the needs of Australians at the very heart of Government service delivery, while lowering the costs of actually delivering those services,” Senator Conroy said.

In February, the Government announced a similar service allowing children with a hearing or vision impairment in regional or remote areas to access specialist medical care via video.

The DHS pilot will commence later in 2012. Details are available in this ministerial media release.

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