The early career Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander speech pathologist position: A Monash Health close-the-gap initiative

Ms Alice Robins1, Ms Michelle O’Rourke1, Dr Abby Foster1,2

1Monash Health, Melbourne, Australia, 2La Trobe University , Melbourne, Australia

Abstract:

Aim:
To create an Early Career Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander speech pathologist position

Method:
In the context of Monash Health and state government policy commitments to closing the gap, this innovative two year position was developed by an Aboriginal staff member in collaboration with speech pathology and allied health management and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Party. This position provides diverse experiences to nurture professional development in a culturally safe environment. The process of developing the position will be shared.

Results:
Individual, workforce and community implications will be discussed. This initiative creates employment pathways for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander speech pathologists, enhances workforce cultural awareness and improves the provision of culturally safe healthcare.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
While 3% of the Australian population identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, they make up only 1% of the health workforce.  Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are often disadvantaged in regard to health, education and employment. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are half as likely to be employed compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people delivering health services to their own communities is critical to the provision of culturally safe services. Therefore increasing the number of speech pathologists who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander is essential. This initiative demonstrates Monash Health’s proactive approach to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander recruitment and retention.

Biography:

Alice Robins is a proud Yuin woman, who has grown up in Victoria. Alice completed her Master of Speech Pathology at La Trobe University in 2017 and was employed by Monash Health in 2018.