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November 2023 – Challenge finalists tour the Pilbara region

The Challenge finalists embarked on a 3-day tour of the Pilbara last month, covering more than 1100 kilometres to meet the staff who deliver health care in one of the most remote regions of the world.

In partnership with the Pilbara Aboriginal Health Alliance (PAHA) and the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), the Challenge finalists toured hospitals, health campuses, clinics, and Aboriginal medical services across the region, including:

With support of the PAMS team, the Challenge group also set out on a 4WD convoy on the bumpy dirt track to Jigalong – 2 hours outside of Newman – to meet the people who live and work in a remote Aboriginal community. A tour of the clinic and town was followed by a community lunch with locals to meet some of the people who are consumers of regional and remote health care.

The 6-hour bus ride between Newman and Port Hedland, and the rough ride out to Jigalong, was a prime example of how the tyranny of distance is a real barrier to accessing health care. The tour provided a firsthand perspective of the challenges that the finalists are aiming to solve through their innovative and disruptive solutions.

The highlight of the tour was meeting the many staff across WACHS and AMS sites in the Pilbara who go above and beyond to support their communities. From modern hospitals to rugged clinics, the dedication of nurses, doctors and support staff was an inspiration to our Challenge finalists.

The tour fostered a better understanding of the healthcare services and consumers in the Pilbara region, and it also sparked new conversations between finalists, staff and program partners to identify new opportunities for collaboration and partnership to overcome the barriers to healthcare delivery.

The Minister for Medical Research, the Hon Stephen Dawson MLC attended the tour, alongside representatives from Challenge keystone partners Rio Tinto and the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, as well as Microsoft, Salesforce and nbn co.

The tour followed a special Challenge update event in Perth on 20 November 2023, where the finalists pitched their concepts to an audience of innovators, researchers, investors, and sector representatives.

Over the next 8 months, the finalists are working to integrate community consultation in the roll out of their proofs-of-concept in the Pilbara, competing for the $5 million prize awarded in October 2024.