Adelaide-based Flinders University speech pathology students Jessica Langridge and Isabelle Callary are completing their fourth-year placements in Katherine, Northern Territory.
The students are working within MacFarlane Primary School and Clyde Fenton Primary School to provide speech pathology support to children.
The Katherine campus was the recipient of a Commonwealth Government grant that will see the allied health student placement program expand.
Isabelle has completed all her placements in rural locations in SA (South Australian) while for Jessica this is her first rural stint.
Both are enjoying practising their clinical skills while also learning how to best provide speech pathology services to people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
“The most important takeaway from this placement has been learning how to work safely in a multicultural society,” Isabelle said.
“We have gotten to know Indigenous Health lecturer Maddy Bower, who has taught us about local Aboriginal cultures in Katherine and how to improve cultural safety for our Aboriginal clients. “Cultural responsiveness is so important in healthcare, and it has inspired us students to learn more.
“We have learnt how to confidently administer assessments that recognise and value culture diversity, for example, speech assessments with pictures that show familiar remote community settings to promote positive engagement with the kids in Katherine.
“When we use these, we are being taught to look for signs of language difference, not just delay/disorder.”
While Jessica said the placement had helped her to be more culturally aware.
“I have also been pushed to be more creative and flexible when it comes to assessing and working with Indigenous children, who often have a background of Kriol or other languages/dialects to take into consideration.
“Learning to adapt tasks and assessments to be culturally appropriate and relevant has helped to solidify my theoretical knowledge.”
Jessica said the placement in Katherine had provided her with learning opportunities that she was unable to get in Adelaide.
“It’s one thing to learn about Indigenous issues and cultural safety at University or school but completely different to be immersed in it,” Jessica said.
“My previous placements were great at building the basis of my clinical knowledge and confidence as a clinician however they did not provide the opportunities this placement has.”
The students said the placement had made them consider a job in a rural or remote area including Katherine.
“It feels as though you can make a real difference in smaller communities that may not have access to your services otherwise,” Jessica said.
While Isabelle said: “I can see myself living in the Top End. Katherine has a very relaxed and inclusive culture in a naturally beautiful setting.”
“Working in a rural setting is very rewarding since there is such a high demand for healthcare.”
To find out more about how you can do a placement in the Northern Territory head here.