A $1 million State Government initiative will help Western Australian manufacturers tap into new world markets for equipment to assist people with disabilities.
Disability Services Minister Eric Ripper, with the help of his colleague, Police Minister Graham Edwards, today launched the push to boost the WA manufacture and export of disability equipment.
"We are among world leaders in producing some disability equipment for domestic use, but too much is being imported, despite the wealth of talent and skill here," Mr Ripper said.
The State Government would provide $500,000 a year, for the next two years, as part of Premier Carmen Lawrence's 'Adding Value' package, to encourage WA companies to design, manufacture and market specific disability equipment.
An annual award would also be introduced for WA design students, to encourage innovative design of disability equipment.
The aim was to create jobs, replace imported equipment with locally-produced items and stimulate local exports to Asia, where the provision of disability equipment was poor.
The launch, at the Independent Living Centre in Shenton Park, highlighted several WA success stories, including;
· the Second Skin company in Subiaco, which had won an Australian design award and was attracting worldwide interest in the production of materials to assist posture and burns recovery;
· KDB Engineering, of Balcatta, WA's biggest producer of disability equipment, which had developed a shower trolley stimulating interest in South-East Asia;
· Avion Australia in Cloverdale, which produced the Ambassador Brumby electric wheelchair - the first to meet stringent new national design standards;
· Para-mobility, of Wangara, which was attracting Japanese interest in a unique hoist to lift people in and out of swimming pools.
Mr Ripper said the initiatives complemented the Premier's commitment in 'Adding Value' to give all new manufacturing and export projects a State tax holiday for their first year of operation. Research and development spending would be doubled to more than $100 million annually for the next four years.