Macquarie Telecom today announced it has established a new partnership with Australian not-for-profit Civic Disability Services. The partnership will create a digital foundation that will enable independent living opportunities for clients and free up time for essential disability support workers that can be better used providing care and assistance.
Civic is a for-purpose organisation committed to working with individuals and partners to develop forward-thinking services that meet the evolving needs of individuals with disability and the elderly. The organisation’s mission – to create real change in individual lives and the community, ensuring economic and social inclusion, lifelong education, access to safe homes and healthcare – is underpinned by a commitment to technology that has allowed it to extend its impact in the past few years.
Using Macquarie Telecom’s NBN partnership, SD-WAN technology and mobile services as a foundation in 55 sites, Civic has been able to accelerate its use of Assistive Technology (AT). Civic has adopted AT through safety-related sensors, building access technology and climate control, with AT also adopted for individual clients to support them in independent living. As well as Macquarie, Civic partners with providers such as Harvey Norman to deliver AT solutions.
CIO at Civic Disability Services Celsus Joseph provided an example of AT in action: “If a client gets up in the middle of the night, ambient lighting is automatically activated to guide them,” he said.
“It’s actually quite a simple innovation, but it can make a world of difference for our clients, and Macquarie has given us a rock-solid technology backbone to make it all work together.”
Civic is also working towards tracking data sets through assistive living technology. Extending the example of ambient lighting, this data can be used to help clients illustrate the supports – and therefore funding – they need from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“We work with clients to help them submit outcomes to the NDIS to secure their funding,” Mr Joseph said.
“It can often be hard to quantify the benefits or the need for certain funding. Being able to show how that data identifies and solves day-to-day challenges will be so important in highlighting the value clients are getting and will justify the support they need.”
Macquarie is enabling Civic to prioritise the services being used on its network using SD-WAN. For example, it prioritises voice and video communication over the likes of Netflix and YouTube, while still ensuring those apps are always available for clients. This is an important consideration with some COVID restrictions still in place and clients needing or choosing to connect online.
Collaboration with the network is also providing Civic’s clients and staff with secure access to the internet, as all traffic filters through the organisation’s firewall.
“Our clients are accessing an increasing number of classes and social events online due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” continued Joseph.
“Clients access classes via our online platform – Civic@Home – via their ipads. Macquarie’s 4G sims and NBN connectivity are vital to this. We expect to transition to 5G eventually which will deliver even more capabilities.”
The 4G and NBN connectivity has also been essential to avoid unnecessary costs to use tier-one carriers that can effectively price gouge when, for example, they own the contract to a whole apartment block. Connecting these sites alone can be as high as $16,000 with a $1,000 per-month service fee on top.
“Civic is setting a high bar for delivering better outcomes and living arrangements to people in Australia with a disability,” said Luke Clifton, Group Executive, Macquarie Telecom.
“With the right assistive living technology and network backbone in place, providers can enable more independent living and move away from outdated processes. Think about an alarm going off to alert an entire home and multiple staff; now that can be a targeted alert created only when needed and sent straight to the appropriate caregiver. This can greatly improve the staff experience too, and ensure they’re freed up to do what they do best.”