Speech Pathology Week 2021

speech pathology week 22-28 August 2021:

Communication is everyone’s right


With Speech Pathology week coming up, as a Speech Pathologist with Going Rural Health I wanted to share some information that Speech Pathology Australia has provided to celebrate this year. 

The information below has been taken almost verbatim from Speech Pathology Australia’s 2021 Speech Pathology week media release.


There are 1.2 million Australians with communication disability. Speech pathologists work to ensure that communications is everyone’s right.

In Australia today, communication disability remains largely invisible. Unseen and out-of-sight.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by Australians with communication disability.

That’s why during Speech Pathology Week, from 22-28 August, (we are) highlighting the week’s theme: Communication is everyone’s right.

Communication is a basic human right. It is fundamental to person’s ability to participate fully in the social, educational, economic and sporting aspects of our community.

Many Australians with communication disability cannot maximise educational, health and social outcomes, without the intervention of a speech pathologist.

Only 38 per cent of Australians with communication disability are participating in the workforce, compared to 80 per cent of people without communication disability.

People with communication disability are also less likely to have a non-school qualification (42%), than those without communication disability (61%).

Communication, by definition, involves at least two people. It is important that everyone understands that communication is more than speech.

Australians with communication difficulties communicate with others using a variety of means, including word-based or picture-based communication boards or books, sign and gesture, and spelling.

Technology is playing a growing and vital role in keeping Australians with communication difficulties engaged with their family, friends and those in the community.

Assistive technology, such as electronic communication and speech generating devices, voice amplification and computer access aids (including eye-gaze mouse control and head tracking devices) allow people with communication difficulties to communicate with those around them.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has established that 1.2 million Australians have communication disability. Communication disability affects a person’s ability to understand and be understood by others.

  • Levels of limitation range from mild to profound and can be temporary or last a lifetime.
  • Children and older people make up the majority of people with communication disability.
  • Children are more likely to have profound/severe communication disability than older people.
  • People with communication disability were less likely to have a non-school qualification (42%) than people without communication disability (61%).
  • Thirty-eight percent of people with communication disability are participating in the labour force compared with 80% of people without communication disability.
  • One in 7 people with communication disability need formal assistance with communication.
  • Half of all people who need formal assistance with communication have an unmet need for this assistance.
  • Three in 5 people who have an unmet need for formal assistance with communication were children.


For information about Speech Pathology Week visit www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/week


Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body representing more than 12,000 speech pathologists. The Association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical and professional standards of its members, as well as lobbying and advocating for access to services that benefit people with communication and swallowing difficulties.

Rebecca Oates

Associate Lecturer, Rural Health Community Placements

Going Rural Health Wangaratta

Speech Pathologist