What we do

What is a speech pathologist?

A speech pathologist is a health professional with a university degree who has been specially trained to assess, diagnose and treat people who are unable to communicate effectively or who have difficulty with feeding and swallowing. Speech Pathologists are concerned with all aspects of communication such as speech, writing, reading, listening, signing and using body language. Speech pathologists or speech-language pathologists were formerly known as speech therapists.

Why do we need speech pathologists?What we do

Communication is a foundation skill that many of us take for granted. It underpins our learning, our relationships and our ability to have a say in life. Communication problems can occur in speech, using and understanding language, voice, fluency, hearing, or reading and writing.

One in seven Australians has some form of communication disability.

This means that one in seven people has a problem communicating or understanding others in their daily life. Each of them may suffer isolation, withdrawal, frustration, anger or embarrassment from time to time as they try to communicate their needs, ideas and opinions. Communication disabilities can vary in their severity however even mild communication problems can have far reaching effects for the individual and their friends and family. Some communication problems can be temporary and easily remediated through therapy but other communication problems can be life-long requiring ongoing support and guidance from a speech pathologist at different stages of a person’s life. The role of speech pathologists is to advocate strongly for appropriate care and services for people with communication disabilities throughout their lifespan.

In Australia approximately:

  • 386,000 children have speech delay problems
  • 577,000 school-aged children have difficulties with language
  • 326,000 people stutter
  • 2.5 million people have hearing impairment
  • 25,000 people have a severe brain injury

(Speech Pathology Australia, 2001)