The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is changing the face of Disability services in Australia. There is a lot of interest, discussion and media attention on what it means for clients (which is obviously good). But there is not as much discussion about the workers providing the support services. Forecasters tell us that demand for speech pathologists will boom. That is, we are going to need more speech pathologists supporting people with Disabilities than ever before. This is great news, but where are the speech pathologists going to come from?
I travelled to Sydney for a workshop that explored student placements in the Disability sector. Their answer about preparing the future Disability workforce was this:
A) Universities are training more speech pathology students
B) Speech pathologists currently working in the Disability sector need to offer really great student placements
C) Current speech pathology students will be so excited after their great placement, that they decide to get a job in the Disability sector
D) As new graduates, these speech pathologists are going to need further, on-the-job training, to get better at the more complex aspects of Disability support
E) The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) needs to have strategies to support private practitioners so they will take students
If we get this right, we will have a skilled, sustainable Disability workforce.
What does this mean for Wollongong Speech Pathology?
I love training students. They are fun, enthusiastic, and full of the latest evidence. They bring fresh ideas that take my clients to new places.
Research is showing that taking students in private practice can actually reduce your workload, so maybe I should test that theory out for myself.
After the workshop I attended in Sydney, I’m inspired to do my bit. So I’m currently looking into taking students in the future. I hope I might entice new speech pathologists to come and support people with Disabilities in the Illawarra.