In 2015, on a Parliamentary Delegation, I attended a business networking function in Vientiane, Laos. You can imagine my delight when one of the first people who introduced themselves to me was from my home town of Mareeba. I then met a young man from Cairns who’s been embedded in the Laotian government for the last three years, providing support and advice.
To top it off, I was introduced to Helen Travers and Julie Gibson, the directors of Hitnet. Helen is from Cairns and told me that she and Julie had been invited to Laos to look at introducing their health touch-screen technology into remote and disadvantaged Lao communities.
I was amazed to hear about this technology, the concept for which came from none other than Dr Ernest Hunter – a renowned health professional who has spent much of the last 25 years working in remote Indigenous communities in northern Australia and Cape York.
Ten years ago, working together in Cairns, the trio started developing the technology that would become the Hitnet Community Hub – a stand-alone, touch-screen unit programmed with a range of interactive content including local community stories, surveys, videos promoting health and social wellness and links to health workers.
Hitnet now has 70 Community Hubs accessible via smartphone and tablet around Australia, and a virtual online kiosk. Another Cairns company, Visual Obsession, builds the interactive learning modules that sit on the Hubs – using the Hitnet software – and also produce some of the video content. Hubs are installed in health centres, prisons and public places.
I was able to try out the Hub at the Manoora Community Centre in Cairns, at the launch of a partnership between Diabetes Queensland and Hitnet. I was so impressed with the way the Hub provides information in an easy-to-understand and engaging way.
Congratulations to the Hitnet team – it really goes to show that here in the Far North we have the ability to transform concepts into pioneering innovations, and export our expertise around the world.
Check out Hitnet at www.hitnet.com.au