Google has announced that Turning Point, Australia’s leading addiction treatment and research centre, is one of 20 organisations world-wide that will share USD$25 million in grants from, credit and consulting from Google Cloud and coaching by Google’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts as a grantee of the Google AI Impact Challenge.

The Google AI Impact Challenge was an open call to nonprofits, social enterprises, and research institutions from around the world to submit their ideas to use AI to help address societal challenges.

The Eastern Health project will focus on Ambulance data:

Ambulances are often the first point of contact with someone who is suicidal, making ambulance clinical records a unique data source to help inform suicide prevention efforts.

By using AI tools to analyze these records, Turning Point, a national center within Eastern Health, will uncover critical suicide trends and potential points of intervention to better inform policy and public health responses.

Turning Point and its partners, Monash University and the Eastern Health Foundation, are the only Australian grant recipients, and will receive $1.2 million AUD ($850,000 USD) to develop a national suicide monitoring system which has the potential to set international standards to informing suicide prevention efforts.

Turning Point Director and Monash University Professor of Addiction Studies and Services Dan Lubman will lead the project and travel to San Francisco in May with colleagues Dr Debbie Scott and Prof Wray Buntine to commence the project. For five days, all 20 organisations from across the world that have successfully received grants will join Google AI experts, Project Managers and the startup specialists from Google’s Launchpad Accelerator for a training program.

Each organisation will be paired with a Google expert who will meet with them regularly for coaching sessions, and will also have access to other Google resources and expert mentorship.

“Suicide rates are unfortunately continuing to rise in Australia and around the world. This grant from Google gives us the opportunity to undertake a project that has huge potential to make a positive impact, and we are incredibly grateful for their generous commitment to supporting this work,” Prof Lubman said.

The project will involve using AI methodologies to streamline coding of national ambulance suicide-related attendance data. The resulting data would play a central role in informing public health prevention, policy and intervention, as well as identifying emerging trends, hidden populations and geographical hotspots for targeted responses relating to suicide.

Eastern Health Foundation Director Jason Smith said, “Eastern Health Foundation is very excited to work in partnership with Turning Point and Monash University on this three year project and is delighted to assist in the coordination of various aspects of this ground-breaking project.

"We look forward to celebrating this incredible outcome with all involved and contributing to improving the lives of people in our community.”

Jacquelline Fuller, president of said more than 2600 organisations applied to the Google AI Impact Challenge.

“We received thousands of applications to the Google AI Impact Challenge and are excited that Eastern Health was selected to receive funding and expertise from Google. AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for use to do even more,” Ms Fuller said.

Find out more at Google Impact Challenge.