September 3, 2014

Australian Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee's final report

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee's final report for the inquiry into the prevalence of different types of speech, language and communication disorders and speech pathology services in Australia was released on 2nd September 2014 and can be found here. The tabling of the Senate report is here. Speech Pathology Australia's response is here.

The work of my students and colleagues at CSU has been cited a number of times in the report. It is exciting to see that our work has been useful in advocating for services. The CSU media release is here.

In an email to members of Speech Pathology Australia posted today Gail Mulcair, CEO of Speech Pathology Australia summarized the report as follows:
The Committee made ten detailed recommendations - which direct the Australian Government Department of Health to progress a program of work that will identify, improve, support and expand speech pathology services in Australia. The time for talking is over - the time for government action is at hand. Recommendations include:
  • That governments, when developing policy and programs, consider the costs to individuals and the Australian community of failing to intervene to address speech and language disorders.
  • That a gap analysis be undertaken of what data is available to identify the current and future need for speech pathology services and how these information gaps could best be filled.
  • Improvements to data on communication disabilities collected through the National Census and other governmental data collection systems.
  • An analysis of the current service delivery model of speech pathology services in the aged care sector and how this relates to the federal government's aged care reforms.
  • A project that maps language support services across Australia against the Australian Early Development Index information about vulnerable children.
  • An immediate audit of the current speech pathology services for children in Australia.
  • The development of a position paper on the impact of the NDIS on speech pathology services in Australia.
  • A strategy to broaden the opportunities for speech pathology students to undertake clinical placements that satisfy the profession's competency based occupational standards.
  • An investigation into the geographical and demographic clustering of speech pathology services in Australia with a focus on new graduate positions.
  • A cost benefit study of the current level of funding for public speech pathology positions, various service delivery models and the impact on individuals, the speech pathology profession and the Australian community.
  • A position paper (jointly developed by the federal Department of Health in collaboration with state and territory governments) on the most effective models of speech pathology services in:
    • Early childhood intervention services
    • The educational system
    • The justice system
    • The health system
    • The residential aged care environment.