Do you, or does someone you know struggle with speech and language skills? If so, you are not alone.
According to the latest data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it’s estimated that 1.2 million Australians currently live with some level of communication disability. In Queensland 18.2 per cent of people live with a communication disability, New South Wales leads the way with 32.3 per cent followed by Victoria with 26.1 per cent.
Allied Health Clinical Lead and Speech Pathologist from the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH), Martina Taylor says the latest figures reinforce the importance of early identification and intervention to help reduce the impact of communication difficulties.
“Unfortunately, the ability to communicate is something that most of us take for granted until we see firsthand how difficulties with communication can impact someone’s life,” she said.
“Difficulties with communication may impact on someone’s ability to talk, understand others, read and/or write. This can then lead to difficulties carrying out daily activities such as shopping or banking, socialising with friends and family or a child’s development and learning.
“Across Australia, there is a general maldistribution of health and wellbeing services which includes Speech Pathology.”
Ms Taylor said services in coastal and metropolitan areas were more readily available and accessible when compared to rural and remote Australia.
“As a way to combat this maldistribution, the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) has been providing allied health university students, including those studying Speech Pathology, opportunities to undertake their clinical placements in rural and remote locations in North West Queensland and the Lower Gulf,” she said.
“Not only does this allow our future health professionals to experience living and working in the west, it also allows us to provide more clinical services to people within our communities who otherwise would have limited or no access.”
While communication disability may have a range of causes, early identification and intervention plays a significant role in helping to reduce or minimise the impact of communication difficulties.
“Communication difficulties in children may impact on their learning and participation in school, therefore, if identified early and intervention commenced, it gives them the best chance possible to improve their skills and reduce the impact on their education,” she said.
“In acquired communication difficulties, the brain has the most chance of recovery in the early stages following an injury or damage. Therefore, it is imperative that intervention be commenced early to promote the best possible recovery.”
The story MICRRH’s commitment to communication in the outback first appeared on The North West Star.