Speech-language pathology practices with Indigenous Australians with acquired communication disorders

Deborah Hersh, Elizabeth Armstrong, Vanessa Panak, Jacqui Coombes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. Little is known about the needs of Indigenous Australian adults with acquired communication disorders (ACD) following stroke or brain injury and how these needs are met by speech-language pathology (SLP) services. In order for the profession to respond to the challenges of providing culturally appropriate, well-tailored and accessible services, more information on current practice and SLPs' concerns and attitudes is required. Method. This paper reports on a national survey with completed responses from 112 SLPs, who worked with adult neurological populations, about their levels of contact with Indigenous clients, cultural competency training and potential sources of support. Result. Of the total respondents, 63 SLPs reported clinical contact with Indigenous clients and they also answered questions on their assessment, intervention and discharge practices; liaison with family; and involvement with Aboriginal Health Professionals and interpreters. This group reported insufficient knowledge about Indigenous culture, lack of support and lower levels of confidence overall in working with these clients as compared to non-Indigenous clients. They wanted more flexible services for their Indigenous clients, good access to interpreters and culturally appropriate assessments and treatments delivered in culturally appropriate settings. Conclusion. This research provides a useful starting point towards understanding SLPs' perspectives and practice at a national level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Speech Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Brain injury and stroke
  • Indigenous Australians
  • Speech-language pathology


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