Keeping your finger on the pulse

SQRH, UQ and UniSQ bring specialised speech pathology clinic to rural children

Date - 25 July 2019

In a first for the region, Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH), The University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) combined to bring a specialised speech pathology clinic to Toowoomba for Charleville district primary school students with reading and writing difficulties.

With supervision from SQRH and UQ clinical educators, a total of 12 University of Queensland speech pathology students and nine UniSQ psychology students conducted the clinic from July 8 to 11.

SQRH Director Associate Professor Geoff Argus said the Phonological Awareness for Literary (PAL) clinic had previously been offered to rural and remote primary school students and held in Brisbane.

“The students travelled to Brisbane from the South West, involving a nine hour drive for parents. SQRH negotiated with UQ to bring the clinic to Toowoomba and while the travel is still a long way, we have provided accommodation for students and parents as well as committed our Clinical Educator Speech Pathology Chrissie O’Connell for supervisory duties.

“The School of Distance Education referred several children for the clinic and they were assessed by UQ Speech Pathologists via telehealth. A total of seven primary school children from the Charleville district benefited from attending.

“The clinic was held at UniSQ where clinical educators and speech pathology students provided individual treatment strategies for each child as well as group therapy sessions. Psychology students observed the clinic as part of their placement opportunity.

“The treatment strategies are many and varied but include children gaining understanding in sound sequencing, use of short and long vowels, consonant clusters plus reading and writing skills.

“This is a real win for rural children and their families and has come to fruition due to the important collaboration between The University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, the School of Distance Education and SQRH.

“We are delighted to provide support to rural families in this way and will evaluate the program to look at bringing the clinic even closer to the South West in future years,” he said.

UQ Speech Pathology Clinic Manager and Educator Kelly Beak said UQ is very excited about the opportunity to work with SQRH and Distance Education to make speech pathology services more accessible for rural families as well as the opportunity for UQ students to experience clinical life in a regional context.

“There are so many possibilities for us going forward, this is just the beginning,” she said.

UniSQ Ipswich and Toowoomba Psychology Clinic Director Jean McCausland-Green said UniSQ was also delighted to provide the use of their Psychology Clinic space in Toowoomba to deliver this invaluable service to children from Charleville.

“We hope that it will be the beginning of an ongoing partnership with SQRH, UQ and the School of Distance Education to provide specialised services to children living remotely,” she said.

Pal Speech Pathology Clinic Participants Primary School Student With Chrissy

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