The Challenge launch

21 November 2022

Some of the world’s biggest tech giants, including Microsoft and Google have risen to the challenge of partnering with projects to create ground-breaking healthcare solutions to the Pilbara.

These global corporations are teaming up with local universities, research institutes and organisations across the public and private sector as part of WA’s ‘The Challenge’.

Minister for Medical Research Stephen Dawson launched The Challenge on Thursday 15 December, offering $5 million to the group which offers the best solution for innovative healthcare solutions in the Pilbara.

This $5 million prize is supported by program partners Rio Tinto, BHP and the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund.

The Challenge represents the latest in WA’s digital and healthcare innovations which have been influential on an international scale. Previous WA researchers such as Prof Fiona Stanley, Prof Barry Marshall and Dr Fiona Wood have led the way in providing global solutions to significant health care issues.

The Challenge offers the potential to break barriers and provide ground-breaking solutions for remote healthcare with participants encouraged to think outside of the box.

Young Aboriginal medical student from the Pilbara, Yarlalu Thomas has embraced the launch of The Challenge, stressing the importance of removing barriers to health care access for Aboriginal people.

“Good health is more than the absence of disease or illness. It includes emotional, social, cultural and spiritual wellbeing.” He said.

Mr Thomas has witnessed these issues affect his grandmother who was sent to a Perth hospital from a community facility in Pilbara to be treated for her acute condition in hospital. Mr Thomas spoke at the launch of The Challenge, detailing his grandmother’s experience.

“The hospital did not have access to health records about the longstanding medical conditions and medications she was previously on.

“My grandmother could not explain this to any of the non-Aboriginal staff members because she doesn't speak English.

“My grandmother's experience is a simple example of how we need to be able to collect data from multiple sources to deliver effective and personalised care for Aboriginal people.

“The experience of my grandmother also serves to highlight the potential of another improvement in health technologies for Aboriginal patients who do not speak English as a first language.”

Mr Thomas said that there was a need for commitment and a need for action.

“It has to be real for sustainable change.” He said.

“Only then will we see the game change in terms of the necessary health and lifestyle treatments that we want to see for our communities. I believe The Challenge will provide an opportunity to be the long-awaited catalyst for real change.”

Submissions for The Challenge open on Wednesday 1 February 2023 and close on Friday 31 March 2023. 

Visit (extenal site) to learn more.