Communication is everyone's right

Posted on Monday, August 23, 2021

From 22-28 August, Australia celebrates Speech Pathology Week 2021. This year’s theme, Communication is everyone’s right, highlights that communication - verbal and non-verbal - is a basic human right for all. With 1.2 million Australians living with a communication disability, Speech Pathologists are supporting many Australians to develop ways to communicate.

Brightwater has a team of Speech Pathologists, who work with clients across aged care and disability services in our residential homes and in the community.

Sally Hughes is a Speech Pathologist in Brightwater’s Capacity Building team, which provides services to people with disability, living in the community. Sally supports her clients to be as independent as possible by working with them to find ways to communicate.

We asked Sally five questions to find out more about how she supports our clients and why she is passionate about her role.  

What inspired you to become a Speech Pathologist?

My older brother is a Physiotherapist, and I liked the sound of the work/family-life balance that could be attained by being an Allied Health Professional. My inspiration for Speech Pathology grows with each passing year. I’m inspired by helping people, but more than that, I am inspired by having the opportunity to meet people and enjoy a sense of shared humanity.

What do you enjoy about the role?

I work with the Capacity Building Team, servicing clients with disabilities through their NDIS plans. I love travelling from site to site and working with people in different contexts – their homes, supported independent living, and residential aged care facilities. We have a strong team and it is a delight to work alongside great colleagues to help people reach their goals.

How do you help your clients communicate?

Just this morning I visited a younger gentleman with dementia. His family is over east, and he is quite socially isolated despite having many fascinating stories to tell about his life. I contacted his family to send photographs of his life and childhood to compile a chat book for him to be able to continue to communicate his story to people, even as his dementia progresses. He was delighted when I told him that news!

What does this year’s theme mean to you?

Everyone has a right to communicate. Conversely, everyone has a responsibility to support others’ communication. Society is so fast-paced that unfortunately not everybody has the time or confidence to help people with disabilities communicate their needs and wants fully. My role is to educate and advocate for my clients to be able to be heard and understood so that they can remain in control of their own lives as much as possible. 

What else would you like to add about your job?

I have struck a good work/family-life balance at Brightwater! I have a husband and two beautiful pre-school aged children and they are very proud to have a Speech Pathologist as their wife and mother.

Find out about career opportunities at Brightwater here.