Speech therapy services are in high demand on Cape York. Apunipima Cape York Health Council’s new speech pathologist Amanda Wilson had 100 referrals in her first week.
Amanda holds the first ever full time speech therapy position for the Cape and says demand far outweighs supply.
‘Cape York has a greater need for speech pathology due to high rates of hearing impairments from ear infections, developmental delay from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and a range of health issues associated with chronic disease. There are many people who speak one or multiple Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages meaning learning in English can be more challenging’.
Amanda, as part of Apunipima’s Maternal and Child Health team, works with children and their families but says many adults need speech therapy services as well.
‘We know that there are still huge gaps in services for adults and in the areas of Cape York we don’t cover’.
Amanda has made a submission into the Senate Inquiry into the Prevalence of Different Types of Speech, Language and Communication Disorders and Speech Pathology Services in Australia to highlight the need for more speech therapy services on Cape York.
‘The Senate Inquiry came about to investigate the huge social and economic impacts of communication and swallowing disorders in Australia. These disabilities are often invisible and silent and have significant life-long impact on the individuals, communities and significant financial burdens on government supports and services.
‘I thought this was a great opportunity to highlight the needs of people in Cape York communities. It is important to give a voice to people with communication disabilities, particularly those who don’t share the same cultural or language background as policy makers. I wanted to discuss the significant life-long impact of communication disabilities and the effect on determinants of health which are essential to closing the gap. Addressing communication difficulties early in life has huge potential for improving people’s education, health, employment outcomes and social and emotional wellbeing’.
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