Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

S.E.L.L. ‘Speak Easy for Learning and Living’ service-learning program: future and opportunities for our communities (#73)

Trish Maroney , Louise Brown , Pascale DETTWILLER

Service learning is increasingly being recognised as an important contributor to the community engagement of universities with the communities they serve as well as an essential part of health curricula. Service-learning delivery models, underpinned by community-campus partnerships, may be one suitable and innovative approach as a solution to entrenched health care inequities, health workforce deficiencies, and cross-sector collaborations that are ‘fit for purpose’ within rural and remote contexts.

As part of their final year clinical placement, speech pathology students from James Cook University, Flinders University and University of Sydney provided speech and language assessment, and therapy where appropriate, for children and families within a primary school which services disadvantaged families in the Katherine region. The program is named S.E.L.L. ‘Speak Easy for Learning and Living’. Students also assisted with referrals to community and health services and contributed to teachers’ professional development relating to classroom support of speech and language development and management of children with difficulties in these areas.

This paper will present:

  • How the program has built and enhanced opportunities for partnerships across research and community in addressing a local void in health services that impedes on children’s education and overall wellbeing; and
  • Substantiated evidence for future use of goal attainment scaling (GAS) as a validated tool for paediatric speech and language therapy for Aboriginal pupils in elementary school.

Qualitative data from interviews of teachers, community members and families involved in the project will be presented alongside quantitative results from 278 goals as aggregated data obtained from 49 pupils receiving daily individual and group therapy over 7 cycles of 6 week blocks . The results have revealed a beneficial impact on pupils’ language progress identified as ‘consolidation process’ that is leading to the preliminary conclusion of the program’s positive outcomes for individuals, communities, professional staff and students, and informs on change in practice when interacting with Indigenous children with speech and language difficulties.