Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Learning Donna Faragher is continuing her call to the State Government to introduce speech pathology services directly into WA schools after new research found around two children in every Australian classroom were experiencing significant language difficulties.
Mrs Faragher said the research, led by Curtin University, is the first study to estimate the prevalence of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in Australian children aged 10 years, with researchers suggesting an alarming number of children are not getting the support they need.
“Children living with DLD can experience difficulties in learning, understanding and using spoken language which can significantly impact their ability to successfully communicate with classmates, family members and teachers.
“Recent answers to parliamentary questions show 5,154 children in the metropolitan area are waiting to access a speech pathologist via the metropolitan Child Development Service. Concerningly, this does not include children living in regional WA.
“We also know that children are having to wait on average 9.3 months to access a speech pathologist in the public health system, which further demonstrates that children are missing out as a result of these lengthy delays,” Mrs Faragher said.
Mrs Faragher said the latest research reinforced her call for greater awareness of language difficulties and improved opportunities for children to access allied health services.
“For some time, I have strongly been advocating for the introduction of speech pathology services directly into WA primary schools, like what has successfully been implemented in most other States throughout the country.
“While the WA Department of Education operates a number of specialist Speech and Language Development Centres for students with a DLD primary diagnosis and an outreach service, the latter does not generally include one-on-one student support.
“Providing individual one-on-one speech pathology services on school grounds and across all schools would support student learning and would also give teachers direct access to information and advice that complements their teaching practices in the classroom.
“The simple fact is the longer a child has to wait for early intervention and support, the greater impact it has on their overall development and wellbeing.
“Given the benefits for children who need extra support, I will continue to call on the McGowan Government to introduce a direct speech pathology service into schools across the State.”