International students seem to have a thing for Australia. Back when I was studying, my Master’s program was one-fifth North American and it brought an interesting mix of perspectives and peanut and jelly sandwiches to the program. So if you’re thinking of chucking it all in, doing the move and adding “G’day” into your everyday lingo, here are some things to know about what being an SLP in ‘Straya is like.
What is the profession called where you live? Speech-Language Pathologist or SLP, but Aussie’s love shortening every word and throwing and ‘ie’ on then end of everything so a lot of us would call ourselves a ‘speechie’.
How long is the average degree for Speech Pathology? Most degrees are four years, although you can do a three year undergraduate in a related field and a two year Masters degree in Speech Pathology. Quite a few Masters degrees have sprung up around Australia in recent years, so it’s definitely on the rise. I was really lucky that I completed my Master’s degree as it was a requirement for working in the US. I also know that a lot of International students come to Australia to complete their Masters degree as it can be less expensive and less competitive to get in.
How do you get certified to be a Speech Pathologist? As well as completing your coursework, meeting the minimum Competency Based Occupational Standards for your clinical work is essential. If you don’t meet the clinical entry-level standards, you might have to complete some extra placements. You typically have to submit a body of work showing that you are well-rounded in all clinical areas of speech pathology (e.g. dysphagia, voice, stuttering, language, speech) and may have a verbal case presentation with a panel of speech pathologists.
What acronyms do you use after being certified? CPSP (Certified Practising Speech Pathologist), though this is only if you join Speech Pathology Australia and demonstrate a commitment to professional development, which is not currently mandatory.
What do your clients or students call you? We usually go by first names, so I’m Rebecca, Bec, Becky, Becca and the occasional Rachel by kids who forget! It was really strange to go from first names to “Miss V” when I worked in the US.
What do you call these?
In what setting do the majority of SLPs work? Private practice has really exploded in Australia so the percentage of SLPs working there has had significant increases. Otherwise health jobs (hospitals, community centres) are always popular too. My state doesn’t hire SLPs to work in schools, but you might still see a private student there.
Where are some really interesting locations to work in your country? Working rural-remote where you fly in to quite isolated communities in the ‘outback’ has always interested me when I scour job listings. I also eyed a few positions on the islands north of Australia where you ‘island hop’ around to provide services. There can be a lot of sole SLPs in Australia due to the size of the country and the small population size. I definitely recommend new graduates and international SLPs looking at these positions for a really unique work-life experience.
Who are some local SLP’s or that are doing great research? I love speech sound disorders, probably because of the fantastic researchers we have in Australia. Caroline Bowen, Elise Baker, Sharynne McLeod and Trisha McCabe are hands down amazing for the wide umbrella of speech (Trisha has just put up a free training for a CAS treatment). I would definitely recommend searching for them and their articles. I’m so proud of the team of SLP’s who developed the Lidcombe Program and Camperdown Program for stuttering – there is great evidence out there, so read up on them if you’re not familiar.
What are the common articulation and language assessments used? I might be stereotyping here, but I’d say most people would use the CELF-4 as their main language assessment and the DEAP for articulation and phonology. The new Australian/NZ standardization of the CELF-5 has just become available, so I’m sure that this will be the standard. I was totally floored whilst living in America to find out that this was not the norm in my school district. I had to learn tons of new assessments and felt like I was a student all over again.