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Speech pathology students enter schools

Tuesday, 23rd February, 2010

* University of Sydney undergraduate speech and language students Jessica Abi-Hanna, Rita Farah, Chloe Saar, Voula Antonakopoulos, Elizabeth Arvanitis with Burke Ward Principal Paul Calrke, Director of Primary Health Care - University Department of Rural Health Deb Jones and Speech Pathologist Dawn Myer. * University of Sydney undergraduate speech and language students Jessica Abi-Hanna, Rita Farah, Chloe Saar, Voula Antonakopoulos, Elizabeth Arvanitis with Burke Ward Principal Paul Calrke, Director of Primary Health Care - University Department of Rural Health Deb Jones and Speech Pathologist Dawn Myer.

A group of University of Sydney undergraduate speech and language students have arrived in the city for a clinical placement in primary schools here and in Menindee.

The university students have started a six-week placement which will give an insight into the uniqueness of providing services in rural and remote communities and further develop their ability to work with children.

The visit comes as a result of combined efforts between The University of Sydney, the BH Department of Rural Health (BH UDRH), the GWAHS Remote Cluster and local regional primary schools. This program was developed in collaboration with the BH UDRH's Student Placement Program and Primary Health Care stream in response to the challenges in attracting speech pathologists to our communities and the limited services available to families.

"From a school's point of view it's great to have a service that has traditionally been hard to access," said Burke Ward Principal Paul Clarke. "It's a great opportunity to have these students in the far west, and hopefully it will result in more students looking at far western NSW when they graduate."

The visiting students will be screening primary school children, developing treatment plans, sharing skills with education staff and parents and gaining skills from all those involved in supporting the placement experience. The group said their time spent in the city thus far had been enjoyable and rewarding."Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming, and also appreciative and grateful of the service," said Voula Antonakopoulos.

Menindee pre-school students will also be able to access the speech pathology students who will be conducting weekly visits. Mrs Diena Grant-Thomson, the Manager of Allied Health Services and Speech Pathology at the BH Health Service will be providing clinical support to the students while they are on placement.

Additional speech pathology students will be arriving here in April and July this year to continue the work of the first group of students. The BH UDRH's Director of Primary Health Care, Ms Debra Jones said she hopes this program will become a longstanding opportunity for students and our communities. "All involved are continuing to work together to explore further similar opportunities for health science students. For example physiotherapy and occupational therapy students could also be placed within our schools to help identify and improve the health of our community's children. "It is a great opportunity for the BH UDRH, health partners and schools to work together to meet unmet health needs."

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