Southern Cross launches new Speech Pathology facilities at Coffs Harbour

Published 30 September 2021
Coffs Harbour Speech Pathology student Bronte Wall with a client in the new clinic set to open to the public next year

Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus has unveiled its new $500,000 Speech Pathology facilities, including a new Health Clinic due to open to the public next year.

Coffs Harbour Head of Campus Professor Les Christidis said the new health facilities would support the local health sector as well as student learning.

“The Health Clinic for Speech Pathology is the first step towards Southern Cross University’s vision of establishing a major health clinic at the Coffs Campus that accommodates occupational therapy, psychology, youth mental health, nursing, exercise science, injury rehabilitation, Indigenous health, midwifery and telehealth practices,” he said.

Professor Christidis said Southern Cross University’s Speech Pathology degree has had a surge in applications since its launch at the Coffs Harbour campus in Session 1 2021, with local and national demand for qualified speech pathologists exceeding current supply.

Read more about the bumper student intake here.

“These state-of-the-art facilities include a Clinical Skills Audio Lab and Health Clinic, which will support industry-leading student experience and learning,” Professor Christidis said of the six-month project that engaged mostly local contractors and suppliers.

“This space is in one of the original buildings on Campus that was previously used for midwifery teaching. Midwifery has now moved into Southern Cross University’s $12 million Health Sciences Building, clearing the way for this half-a-million-dollar refurbishment to be completed,” he said.

“The 150m2 Clinical Skills Lab is an educational classroom space as well as a physical and computing laboratory, which includes high-definition computers with phonetics and linguistics software, high-fidelity audio, acoustic panels for soundproofing, cabinets of assessment and diagnostic equipment, and three dedicated computers which link to the Health Clinic audio and video capture system.”

Speech Pathology Lecturer Melissa Kemp said having these high-tech rooms connected via high-definition video and audio gives students the best hands-on real-time training, as well as the ability to review footage and analyse clients’ communication skills for assessment and intervention purposes.

“Students will first learn to use the equipment with each other in a class setting and from mid-2022 we will be offering professionally-supervised speech pathology Health Clinic appointments to the Coffs Harbour community,” Ms Kemp said.

“Having this Health Clinic available to the public will be an important component of our students’ clinical work experience, and will offer a much-needed community health service for children and adults.”

Feedback from the Careers Team at Southern Cross University shows there are not enough speech pathology graduates to meet current demand from the Allied Health sector within the local market.

Employment growth projections by the Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business indicate the occupation group of Audiologists and Speech Pathologists/Therapists will continue experiencing strong growth.

Southern Cross University Speech Pathology student Mia Reynolds, who originally studied the Diploma of Health at the Coffs Harbour campus last year, said she was thrilled when the University announced it would offer the Speech Pathology degree in Coffs from 2021.

“Being able to study Speech Pathology locally without having to move to the University’s Gold Coast campus has been amazing. I’m thankful I can live locally and be surrounded by family and friends and get a quality degree while also keeping my job as a disability support worker,” Mia, 20, said.

“Our Speech Pathology lecturers are professionals who are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate and who give us a lot of individual support in our studies. It’s so amazing to study this in Coffs Harbour, to study in a regional area with these kinds of facilities.”

The Health Clinic at Coffs Harbour campus will complement Southern Cross University’s established Health Clinics at its Lismore and Gold Coast campuses.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794, scumedia@scu.edu.au