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New AI tool to help practitioners deliver high-quality support to people with disability

Original article published on the Faculty of Arts by Emily Wrethman

A new AI-supported educational tool aimed at helping practitioners deliver safe, high-quality support to people with disability has been developed by researchers from Flinders University, the University of Melbourne, and The University of Queensland.

The learning system is designed to identify the presence or absence of key elements of a behavioural support plan and direct the practitioner back to the relevant resources.

The project is part of the Promoting Good Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) Practice project, a collaboration between the three institutions, and funded by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Dr Eduardo Araujo Oliveira, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne said: "Our AI-supported learning system was designed and developed to analyse vast amounts of data to identify patterns and insights that humans might overlook and guide practitioners in the creation of better quality plans that will better assist those in need."

"Thousands of practitioners can now use our AI-supported learning system, simultaneously, and receive consistent, comprehensive, customised, and timely feedback.

"AI can facilitate more interactive and responsive training environments through simulations and scenario-based learning, which are highly effective for understanding and applying Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) principles. It will also enable ongoing professional development through modules that update automatically as new research and best practices emerge."

The project was launched internally to around 400 NDIS Quality and Safeguards and Department of Social Services staff and externally to the broader disability sector with an audience of 400 behaviour support practitioners and service providers.

Professor Keith McVilly, a Clinical Psychologist and Professorial Fellow for Disability & Inclusion at the University of Melbourne said the educational tool has the potential to protect and prevent people with disability from experiencing harm arising from poor quality or unsafe supports or services.

“There is an urgent need in the disability sector to reduce the reliance on restrictive practices, such as sedation, physical restraint and isolation when managing challenging behaviours.

“These types of strategies violate people’s human rights and can lead to psychological and physical harm, which is why an educational tool such as this is so important to improving the safety and wellbeing of people living with disability”.