What is a speech pathologist?
Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, stuttering and using voice. They work with people who have difficulty communicating because of developmental delays, stroke, brain injuries, learning disability, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, dementia and hearing loss, as well as other problems that can affect speech and language. People who experience difficulties swallowing food and drink safely can also be helped by a speech pathologist.
What Training do Speech Pathologists Need?
All speech pathologist complete a university qualification. Speech Pathology Australia is recognised by the Department of Education and Training as the assessing authority for speech pathologists in Australia.
The Association accredits university programs that offer speech pathology training. Currently, speech pathologists are able to gain a recognised qualification at either an undergraduate or Masters level. Both courses are equally recognised by the Association and employers. Speech pathology is a self-regulated profession. Members must meet the Association’s standards in regards to continuing professional development in order to renew as a Certified Practising Speech Pathology Australia member.
What is the Difference between Public and Private Speech Pathologists?
Speech pathologists can work in public and private settings. Public services are provided by government or not for profit organisations. The service is usually free of charge though sometimes a small fee may be charged. There is often a waiting list for public services.
Private services are provided by speech pathologists working in a sole practice, with other speech pathologists or in multi-disciplinary practices. There is a fee for these services though rebates through Medicare and private health insurance may be available. Usually, you do not need a referral to see a speech pathologist. You will need to visit a GP if you need to be assessed for eligibility for Medicare rebates through the Chronic Disease Management program.