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Speech Pathology degree answers the call

Woman sitting.
Professor Bernice Mathisen is the Discipline Lead and Program Director of the University of Southern Queensland’s new Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours).

What do Bruce Willis, John Farnham, Roberta Flack and Delta Goodrem all have in common?

Aside from being famous, they have all called upon the help of a speech pathologist in recent years for issues with their speech, language, voice, fluency or swallowing.

While they are commonly known for working with children, speech pathologists specialise in helping people with communication and swallowing challenges from birth to death.

And while you do not have to be a celebrity to obtain their services, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Australian rural and regional areas to keep pace with demand, particularly in Queensland where waiting times of 12 months or longer are more common compared to other states and territories.

To help tackle the problem, the University of Southern Queensland has launched a new undergraduate degree in speech pathology with an embedded research Honours component.

Spearheading the degree program is one of the country’s most experienced speech pathologists.

Professor Bernice Mathisen arrived at the University with more than 50 years of experience in the profession, having worked in various settings in Australia, the United States, Vietnam, India and the UK.

She said the four-year Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) would lead to career-ready opportunities for students and better access to health care for local residents.

“This is another example of how UniSQ is responding to the needs of the local workforce and industry,” Professor Mathisen said.

“Communication is a human right and as speech pathologists, we advocate and empower people and their families, who do not have a voice in their community.

“Early intervention is critical, but unfortunately many people cannot get access to a speech pathologist or do not know that speech pathologists can provide assessment, practical input, support and treatment in partnership with other allied health professionals.

“It’s a dynamic and rapidly growing profession, and UniSQ is excited to offer a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art degree that will make graduates immediately employable.”

The undergraduate program will be offered for the first time at the University’s Ipswich campus from February 2023.

Students will understand the positive impact they can have on people’s lives with compassionate care and interprofessional learning a major focus of the degree.

Students will develop their cultural awareness and sensitivity, especially when working with First Nations peoples, by exploring ways to deliver assessment and intervention to culturally and linguistically diverse people.

The University is working with regional healthcare providers to ensure students will include rural and remote practice education experiences during their program.

Professor Mathisen said she hoped many students would go on to live and work in the regions once they are qualified.

“The program has already received a lot of interest from potential students not only in Brisbane and Ipswich but from the Darling Downs, Roma, Longreach, St George and interstate,” she said.

“The best outcome for us is to attract students from the bush intending to work in their home town as that is where the biggest need for speech pathologists exists.”

Do you have a passion for improving the lives of others? Students of the University of Southern Queensland’s Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) will be guided by experienced speech pathology academics and industry professionals to become practice-ready graduates.

More information is available.