Geelong Community Foundation Grant

In celebration of Speech Pathology Week, BCH would like to acknowledge the Geelong Community Foundation in supporting the establishment of a Senior Paediatric Speech Pathologist role which has strengthened the service we can provide to our clients on the Bellarine.

Community health plays the crucial role of filling gaps left by the broader health system and bridges the gap between acute and primary care sectors. Both placed-based and local, it reduces barriers to accessing services and provides support to community members throughout all stages of life.

Geelong Community Foundation CEO Gail Rodgers says that the data highlights just how crucial community organisations like BCH are.

“Census data tells us that 43.5% of residents in the City of Greater Geelong and 48% in the Borough of Queenscliffe report long term health conditions, which is significantly higher that the 39% in Victoria,” she said.

BCH provides a broad range of health services and wellbeing programs for people of all ages including its passionate team of Speech Pathologists, who work within the Child Health and Development team to support children and young people to develop their communication skills. BCH currently has five wonderful ‘speechies’; the affectionate term for a Speech Pathologists.

Services are provided in a child-centred and family-focused way that build on the strengths of the child and family. The team primarily works with children who are aged 0-12 and they are able to see children under Community Health funding (government subsidised) or through the NDIS.

BCH provides one-to-one therapy as well as groups such as ‘Little Talkers’ for young children delayed in their talking and early communication, and ‘Minimal Pairs’, which focuses on speech sound production for children with difficulty in word clarity.

Services and group sessions can be delivered from the BCH site in Drysdale, via Telehealth or in community settings such as Early Learning Centres (ELC), schools or even in the home. BCH prioritises services for those who live locally or attend ELC or school in the Bellarine region.

Over the last 12 months (the 2022-23 financial year) the BCH speech services has provided over 3,000 appointments and worked with more than 300 families. The demand for its child health services continues to grow and BCH currently has waitlists for all speech-related services.

According to Gail, the grant application from BCH was compelling based on the articulated benefits of early intervention for children with developmental delays.

“The Foundation was focused on supporting the reduction in extended wait times to ensure families could access this specialised support being offered by BCH,” she said.

Bellarine Community Health Child Health and Development Manager Gus Campbell, said that the establishment of a Senior Paediatric Speech Pathologist role within the Child Health and Development team has been made possible through funding from the Geelong Community Foundation, with the grant supporting its recruitment and implementation.

“The grant enabled us to enhance the speech teams’ skills and capabilities, improve access to speech services, explore new areas of service, and has supported the establishment of an early career position for new graduates or those with limited experience and planning for the return of student placements,” he said.

“Attracting Speech Pathologists to the sector is one of the ongoing and increasing challenges faced by BCH and the Community Health sector more broadly due to workforce shortages, along with securing additional funding to enable us to recruit to respond to the increased demand and provide timely access to much-needed early intervention therapy and support.”

Find out more about how the Geelong Community Foundation supports our community HERE.

Learn more about BCH Speech Pathology services HERE.

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