November 2017 Speech Pathology Newsletter Page 1
Speech Pathology Newsletter
Course Coordinator’s Report
Welcome to the 2017 edition of our ECU Speech Pathology newsletter! It has been yet another jam-
packed year for all here at ECU.
First and foremost, it is my pleasure to announce that we have received reaccreditation of our programs
by Speech Pathology Australia: Bachelor of Speech Pathology and Bachelor of Speech Pathology
(Honours) for the 5 year period (2017-2021). We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, in
particular the students, graduates and speech pathologists who volunteered their time to meet and
speak with the accreditation panel (all the way back to May 2017!). Your assistance with the
accreditation process is much appreciated.
The panel commended ECU on the following points:
The course strengths evident throughout the documentation and information obtained on the site visit
included: robust processes in place to monitor quality of teaching and learning, cohesive and stable
teaching team, well supported clinical educators, and clinical tutorials for fourth year students and the
Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander and cultural competency curriculum. The panel also commend the
strength of the research profiles and unique leadership in relation to research related to speech pathology
practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The panel were impressed by the innovative
design and comprehensive processes surrounding the e-portfolio.
What a successful and productive year! The newsletter speaks to this! I would like to personally thank all
the speech pathology staff for their commitment and passion! Thank you also to our sessional staff
members who contributed to our program in 2017: Katy Stewart, Ann Jacobs, Susan Booth and Amy
Dr Charn Nang Speech Pathology Course Coordinator
NHMRC Partnership Project
Enhancing rehabilitation services for Aboriginal Australians after brain injury.
Following on from the Missing Voices project, Professor Beth
Armstrong is now leading another project surrounding services for
Aboriginal brain injury survivors that commenced in 2017. The
project is funded through the NHMRC as well as receiving both
cash and in-kind support from a variety of partners across WA and
The Missing Voices project revealed poor access to care,
rehabilitation and support following an acute brain injury. In order
to address this, and based on results from the Missing Voices
study, the proposed project will trial an intervention package with
the following aims:
1. to improve access to inter-disciplinary and culturally appropriate rehabilitation services for
Aboriginal people following brain injury (stroke and traumatic brain injury) in Western Australia.
2. to improve medical, functional and psycho-social outcomes for the above population
3. to establish a costing model for the above which will contribute to service sustainability and
planning of future services.
November 2017 Speech Pathology Newsletter Page 2
ECU Speech Pathology team, as well as a large multidisciplinary group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
research collaborators from ECU, UWA, Notre Dame University, Monash University, University of
Technology Sydney, and Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service.
WA Department of Health, the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation, the Neurological
Council of WA, the Stroke Foundation, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, St John of
God Midland Hospital, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WACHS (for sites in Broome, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, and
Port Hedland), Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services
Council, Bega Garnbirringu Health Services, Wirraka Maya Aboriginal Health Corporation.
The NHMRC funded Partnership project (2017-2021) Enhancing Rehabilitation Services for Aboriginal
Australians after Brain Injury will start recruiting people around February. We aim to recruit 312
participants from across WA. The project aims to improve services and hence increase quality of life for
Aboriginal people after stroke and traumatic brain injury. The intervention consists of cultural security
training surrounding brain injury for hospital staff and the employment of Aboriginal Brain Injury
Coordinators across the state to assist the brain injury survivor and their family for up to six months after
injury in terms of support, advocacy and educational resources.
For further information please go to the following link: http://www.ecu.edu.au/schools/medical-and-health-
The Wangi project
The Wangi (talking) project: a feasibility study of a culturally sensitive rehabilitation model for
Aboriginal people post stroke.
Aboriginal Australians experience stroke up to 3 times more frequently than non-Aboriginal Australians.
However they are under-represented in rehabilitation services and culturally sensitive rehabilitation
treatment protocols aren’t currently available. Health service providers also report a lack of confidence in
providing services to Aboriginal people who have had a stroke. Through this project we tested the
feasibility and acceptability of the first culturally tailored intervention protocol for use with Aboriginal
people with acquired communication disorders (ACD) post stroke.
Eight Aboriginal people with ACD post stroke were recruited to the study. The intervention involved 16 x
1hr treatment sessions provided twice weekly. It utilised collaborative planning, integrated a ‘yarning’
framework, and was provided by a speech pathologist and Aboriginal co-worker at a mutually agreed
location. Participant acceptability was measured through an analysis of participant attendance and
participant satisfaction questionnaires. Improvement in
participant communication skills was measured through
change in verbal output in everyday conversation. Results
suggest the treatment is acceptable with a high level of
participant attendance. Participants noted improvements in
communication and reported key components of the program,
such as working with an Aboriginal co-worker and yarning
based therapy tasks, were helpful.
Associate Professor Natalie Ciccone, Professor Beth
Armstrong and Associate Professor Deborah Hersh
November 2017 Speech Pathology Newsletter Page 3
Dr Rimke Groenewold from the University of Groningen, the
Netherlands, is undertaking a postdoctoral fellowship at ECU
for 2017 – 2018. She is funded by the Netherlands
Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to collaborate with
Professor Armstrong and the speech pathology team on a
project entitled ‘The use of direct speech as a compensatory
device in aphasic interaction’.
Research: People with aphasia, a language disorder due to
brain damage, have difficulty constructing sentences because
of grammatical problems. Some people with aphasia are
argued to ‘communicate better than they talk’. In order to get
their message across, they develop communication strategies, which allow them to exploit resources that
are still relatively intact, such as pragmatic, prosodic and non-verbal skills.
The research focuses on one of these possible strategies, namely the increased use of direct speech
constructions (e.g., John said: “Great!”) by aphasic speakers that has been observed in previous studies.
To what extent the use of direct speech by aphasic speakers deviates from that by healthy speakers - and
therefore whether it can be considered a compensatory device - remains unclear. Where in healthy
language direct speech has been studied extensively, in aphasic interaction it has received little attention.
This project cross-linguistically investigates whether problems with grammar can be compensated by the
deviating use of prosody accompanying direct speech. The approach of this research is novel because it
combines two research disciplines - neurolinguistics and discourse analysis - it contributes to both
theoretical insights and implications for clinical practice; depending on the outcomes, recommendations
for speech therapy will be developed.
WA: And while we’re here anyway, we might as well take advantage and see as much as possible of
beautiful WA. We visited Margaret River and Busselton, and for a longer holiday we went up north to see
Broome and drive all the way back to Perth, visiting Exmouth, Coral Bay, Shark Bay, Kalbarri and
Cervantes on the way. It was stunni