Google grants Eastern Health’s Turning Point $1.2 million to establish world-first suicide monitoring system

8 May 2019

Google announced today 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.

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 later this week 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.

About Turning Point: Turning Point is a national treatment, research and education centre that provides leadership in the alcohol and drug, gambling and mental health sectors in Victoria and beyond. Combining innovative research in the clinical, population health and policy fields, with service innovation, surveillance, system enhancements, capacity building and specialist support, Turning Point assists services, communities and the Victorian government and national agencies to respond to current and emerging alcohol and drug and gambling issues. Turning Point is part of Eastern Health and is affiliated with Monash University.

About Eastern Health and Monash University: Eastern Health’s catchment is one of the geographically largest in the state, with services to over 1 million people. Services are delivered from 65 sites across 21 locations including Box Hill, Maroondah and Angliss Hospitals and well as numerous community care centres. Box Hill Hospital (Eastern Health) was the first ranked hospital in Australia being the second ranked Australian research organisation and 36th research organisation overall in the world by Times Higher Education in 2018.

Monash University is a world leader in medical and health sciences research and education, ranking in the top 50 universities globally for clinical, pre-clinical and health in education and research.

Monash’s Eastern Health Clinical School centred at Box Hill Hospital, undertakes both clinical education and research. Research spans the spectrum from applied research that establishes an evidence base to improve models of patient care, health data driven studies, laboratory translational research, to investigator-initiated trials and industry-sponsored clinical trials of new therapeutics.

About, Google's philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues worldwide and apply radical, data-driven innovation to solving the world's biggest challenges.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Chris Reid at (03) 9092 6771, or email [email protected].