Australia’s first Care Economy Research Institute

La Trobe University announced today the creation of Australia’s first research institute devoted to the Care and Support Economy.

Led by Professor Irene Blackberry as the Institute Director, the Care Economy Research Institute (CERI) will be a world leading research institute aimed at improving health and wellbeing and driving Australia’s economic growth by breaking down silos in the health and social care sectors.

CERI will expand the University’s exceptional research and teaching capability in the health and wellbeing space, as well as strengthening and creating new partnerships with multiple health-care providers, government, education and research facilities across Australia and globally.

La Trobe University is investing over $20 million in CERI over the next five years.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, said that Australia needs an institute dedicated to providing evidence-based research into ways that the Care Economy can become both more efficient and humane.

“La Trobe University is well placed to become a national, and international, focus for research into the Care Economy,” Professor Dewar said.

“Our interdisciplinary researchers from economics, business, data analytics, healthcare, humanities, social sciences and law know how to examine the best ways to develop care and support markets, as well as how to ensure that care is connected.”

The Care Economy was a focus of the recent (9 May) Federal Budget announcement. Treasurer, the Honourable Jim Chalmers, stated that the Care Economy is growing rapidly, driven by an ageing population, a transition from informal to formal care, and heightened community expectations around the standard of care.

To address the needs and growth predictions of the Care Economy, CERI will be targeting research across five main domains: Care Technology; Care Workforce; Care Delivery; Care Experience; and Care Economics, Social and Policy.

The John Richards Chair at La Trobe University, Professor Blackberry, said the aim of CERI will be to trial innovative approaches across the life course and translate effective and cost-effective evidence into all aspects of the Care Economy.

“The concept of the Care Economy covers life - from birth, such as maternal and child-care services, to health and community care and all the way to death, including aged care, palliative care and end-of-life care. There are very few people in Australia, if any, who do not at some stage in their lives rely on one or more of these services,” Professor Blackberry said.

“CERI’s focus will be to reduce the siloed approach to the current sectors within the Care Economy and is the first attempt in Australia to connect diverse care sectors comprehensively as one industry in Australia.

“CERI’s research into workforce shortage and skills analysis will inform new approaches on workforce training such as micro-credentials, which can be rolled out by La Trobe, aiming to solve the critical problem of there being no single approach in Australia to the Care Economy and the industries that it represents. CERI will change the narrative of Care Economy from a welfare burden into a growing industry.”

CERI will target research with national economic impact and global reach, with a particular focus on value-based care, technologies and innovative therapies to allow people to be better cared for at home or in the community. This will be coupled with macroeconomics, the social determinants of health, social policy, and attention to the complexities of cultural diversity in the delivery and experience of care.

“The great benefit of CERI is the multiplier effect - to work with consumers, industry and government across the current silos - on common challenges and opportunities, with the benefit of interdisciplinary expertise to ensure that the learnings of one are shared with all,” Professor Blackberry said.

Professor Blackberry said that the development of new technologies that can benefit the Care Economy is a focus of CERI.

“Our approach will place the end-users of technology at the start of the research process, ensuring that their perspectives, needs and concerns inform every aspect of both identifying care problems and developing technology-based solutions to those problems,” Professor Blackberry said.

“In this way, we will ensure that the care technologies we research, develop, design and implement are not only fit-for-purpose, but also desirable and thus adopted by care providers and care recipients, as well as workplaces and organisations. Central to this is a focus on attention to ethics, compliance, privacy and security.”

Contact the La Trobe University Media Team

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