Hi, my name is Bronwyn and I am a senior speech pathologist at Royal Far West.
What does your role involve?
As well as speech pathology, I also work in a program called SWAY which stands for ‘Sounds, Words, Aboriginal Language and Yarning’. It’s a RFWS classroom-based language enrichment program that is supported by targeted speech pathology. RFW has been supporting the program since 2015. As a member of the speech pathology leadership team my role also involves supervising less-experienced clinicians.
One of my professional interests is practice education, and I act as a liaison officer between RFW and universities to organise placements. I’m also involved in a discipline-specific group providing information on Aboriginal English and its interaction with Standard Australian English. And I’m on the Values Champions committee.
As you can see, I have direct contact with clients. However, ensuring quality practice through supervision and education will also have a positive effect for the clients we service. We are currently building up the practice education program, including developing new relationships with rural universities to take on more remote students. Students can be a good source of possible employees in the future.
What Aboriginal Country do you live/work on?
Gadigal land of the Eora nation
How long have you been with Royal Far West?
Have you seen any changes in the sorts of issues children have during your time at Royal Far West?
I’m not sure that the ‘issues’ have changed so much. I think our identification and understanding of them has changed significantly and for the better.
What led you to work at RFW?
I’ve only ever worked with children. I’ve worked in community health and in schools, as well as a little bit of private work when my kids were younger. Most of my work has been with children from EALD (English as an Additional Language or Dialect) backgrounds. I’ve worked with kids from Arabic-speaking and Vietnamese backgrounds, as well as lots of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. I had heard of RFW when I was at school (a really long time ago) so I jumped at an opportunity to work there. I was also keen to learn about telecare and how that operates in practice.
Can you describe your typical day?
A ‘typical’ day would include direct client work either in the schools telecare program and/or SWAY. There might be a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and/or a leadership meeting and a supervision meeting. I find more and more of my time is being taken up liaising with universities regarding our student placements – this involves monitoring placements and supporting our clinicians when they are supervising students.
What do you love about working with families from rural and remote Australia?
I love how different their lives are from mine. I love their stories. I love what I learn from them. My Dad grew up in the country – I come from a family of country teachers actually.
What do you think makes RFW unique?
Our clients have a right to access the kind of services we have available in city environments, but these are often not available in rural settings. RFW works really hard to provide a high-quality, best-practice service, and I’m very proud of that.
Can give us an example of a family’s positive outcomes through working with RFW?
During the first lockdown, when schools were closed, some sessions were shifted into clients’ homes using technology formats such as video conferencing. I had one client who really thrived in this new situation. We conducted sessions on an iPhone wherever he wanted to be – inside the house, in a field, sitting on a fence. At the end of 2020, this child received his school’s award for making the most progress in his schoolwork in the year. He, his Mum, and I, were all so proud of that.
Where’s your country? – Where do you feel most connected to?
I love the NT, Alice Springs and Uluru in particular. I don’t get to go there very often, unfortunately.
Can you share some career highlights from your time at Royal Far West?
I joined the SWAY team in 2015. Since then that program has evolved so much, and I have been very involved in that. I am very proud of this program, and how it is becoming more and more popular in schools and preschools. It’s not, strictly speaking, a RFW program, but I wouldn’t be in it if were not for RFW.