Graphic: Speech Therapy

Flying Doctor Speech Therapy expands to the Loddon and Buloke Shires.

Date published

21 Apr 2021

In partnership with Inglewood District Health Service and East Wimmera Health Service (EWHS), Flying Doctor Speech Therapy has expanded in early 2021 to the Loddon and Buloke Shires of Victoria.

This free service enables families in the communities of Inglewood, Wedderburn, Bridgewater, Charlton, Donald, Wycheproof and Birchip to more easily access speech pathology services. Inglewood-based speech pathologist, Georgia Bartels, provides her vital expertise to families with children aged 0-12 both in person and via telehealth.

“My assessments and therapy appointments are run in a one-on-one setting,” says Georgia. “Sessions comprise of lots of engaging activities and fun games that simultaneously target a child’s speech and language development.”

Speech pathology covers a wide range of areas related to communication, including speech and articulation, understanding and using language, pre-literacy and literacy skills, social skills, stuttering and even swallowing.

Delays in a child’s speech and language development can greatly impact their ability to communicate, learn and make friends. As such, early intervention is essential for improved work and social opportunities in the future, while also increasing a child’s overall health and wellbeing.

“Between the ages of 0-5, a child’s brain is developing extremely quickly,” says Georgia. “The experiences and interactions they have during this time help to lay the foundations for their ongoing language and communication development.

“If you feel that your child may be falling behind in their communication milestones, regular contact with a speech pathologist during these early years can help to improve their ability to communicate, interact with others, and improve their social skills and emotional development.”

Georgia recognises that there has long been a need for speech pathology services within these communities.

“Previously, families across the two shires had to travel as far as Bendigo and Swan Hill to access speech pathology intervention, and due to waitlists, they may have had to engage more costly, private services,” she says. With this free community service now available across Buloke and Loddon, families no longer have to worry about long travel times or out of pocket costs when it comes to helping their child develop lifelong speech, language, communication, social and learning skills.

Flying Doctor Speech Therapy was first established in the Mallee region in 2018, where it is currently delivered in partnership with Robinvale District Health Services and Mallee Track Health and Community Service. Since launching, this service has supported more than 400 children with its speech pathology program, with many more children set to benefit from this service expansion.

“Health and education providers in our region have long recognised the importance of speech pathology support in the early years setting,” says EWHS Chief Executive Officer, Trevor Adem. “To now be able to access this type service will deliver great outcomes for local families.”

To find out more about this new service in the Loddon and Buloke Shires, or to make an appointment with Georgia, families can contact the Flying Doctor Speech Therapy team on (03) 5431 7000 or at admin@idhs.vic.gov.au.