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2015 National Conference

17 – 20 May 2015

National Convention Centre, Canberra, ACT

Call for papers

The 2015 Conference Planning Committee (CPC) invites you to put forward papers, workshops and poster presentations.

The National Conference 2015 will promote connectedness, exchange of ideas and ‘big things’ for all speech pathologists that attend.

Challenge - Speech pathologists will learn about innovations, new research and alternate ways of delivering services, challenging their knowledge and current clinical practice

Broaden – Speech pathologists will be encouraged to ‘think outside’ the box. Within the current context of increased pressure on service delivery and a progressive profession, speech pathologists will be exposed to new evidence and innovative and efficient ways of delivering speech pathology services in many contexts, aiming to ‘broaden’ knowledge and the profession

Major Sponsor

Revolutionise – Speech pathologists will be encouraged to integrate learning from the Conference into their clinical practice, revolutionising how speech pathology services are delivered and revolutionising the profession as a whole.

Submissions accepted by the Scientific Program Sub-committee will be grouped under nominated themes for presentation at the 2015 National Conference.

Important Dates:

The online abstract submission is now closed.

15 December 2014 – Notification regarding the success of the submission

For a small city, Canberra packs a mighty punch in the world of research, innovation and industry leadership.  It is a proud home to national landmarks, institutions and federal parliament. Nestled amongst the great Australian bush landscape, it is a city that provides the extra element for our national conference.

We look forward to welcoming you to Canberra for the Speech Pathology Australia 2015 National Conference.


Further information regarding the Conference is available from the following links:


Felicity Martin, Conference Convenor

Katina Swan, Scientific Program Sub-committee Chair

Eleanor McMillan

Anna Russell

Bethany Wagg



2014 Federal Budget

The Federal Budget – What It Means for Speech Pathologists

It has been hard to miss this week but the big news is the Budget – here is Speech Pathology Australia’s take on what the Federal Budget 2014-2015 means for our members and the people we work with who live with communication and swallowing disorders.

The good news….

Whilst we are disappointed that there are no new funds for speech pathology services, allied health has largely gone under the radar in this year’s budget. This is good news given the radical cost-saving measures applied to much of the health sector.

There is $13.4 million over three years to fund 500 additional nursing and allied health scholarships. Scholarships with a value of up to $30,000 each will target workforce shortages in rural and remote areas.

There is a very welcomed investment into a Medical Research Future Fund with 1.1 billion dollars growing to 20 billion by 2020 to bolster medical research activities. It is hoped that interdisciplinary research will provide an opportunity for speech pathologists to work collaboratively with their medical and nursing counterparts to research ways to prevent and manage patients with dementia, stroke and other medical problems where the involvement of speech pathologists is critical to improved outcomes for patients.

The NDIS has survived the budget cuts with the government committing $19.3 to the roll out over the next seven years.   Good news for our many clients who will be eligible for assistance through the NDIS.

The proposed simplification of the many government health agencies is cautiously welcomed as an opportunity to reduce duplication and increase productivity. Health Workforce Australia (HWA) will be absorbed into the federal Department of Health. Fortunately SPA have received a guarantee that existing funding for projects currently underway at head office will be honoured. Also, Medicare Locals will be abolished (to be replaced with Primary Care Networks from July 2015).  It is hoped that the establishment of new and consolidated agencies might provide a timely opportunity for Speech Pathology Australia to capitalise on the increased awareness achieved through the current Senate Inquiry and ICP2014 activities and provide opportunity for SPA to be represented formally in these agencies/organisations so we can advocate more effectively for our profession and our patients.

Best to brace yourselves…..

Australians will begin to pay a ‘co-payment’ of $7 for previously bulk billed Medicare services at a General Practitioners, an additional $5 per PBS subscription and an additional $5 for out-of-hospital diagnostic and imaging services.  Whilst the GP co-payment funds will be invested in the Medical Research Future Fund, it is the view of most health experts that increasing the out-of-pocket costs for primary health care will discourage those who are most in need but most unable to afford it from seeking treatment from a doctor.  This may have significant repercussions for our patients who at present can only access our allied health Medicare rebatable services through via a GP referral.

Significant cuts have been made to federal government hospital funding – placing more pressure on state and territory governments to find ways to finance hospitals.  It’s not clear how this will effect services for our members who work within speech pathology services in the hospital sector – but expect state governments to make changes in response to their budget ‘black holes’.

For people with communication and swallowing disabilities and their families, the real value of the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Carers Payment will be reduced with increases tied to the CPI index rather than average male weekly earnings. Along with increased out of pocket health care expenses, we estimate that our clients receiving Disability Pension will be significantly worse off financially.

There will also be changes to eligibility and assessment processes for people on the Disability Pension including a reassessment of those aged under 35 years with some capacity to work. No announcements were made into investments or supports for job formation appropriate for clients receiving DSP whose communication disorders may impact on their ability to join the workforce.

The deregulation of university fees may effect the training of speech pathologists in Australia through changes in the cost of an undergraduate degree in speech pathology. 

As previously announced funding for the More Support for Students with Disability Program was not renewed however no new spending for students with disability under the Gonski model was announced. SPA will continue to work with Branches to advocate to state governments for speech pathology services in schools.

Most Australians will now face a reduction in their weekly incomes (whether it be through reduction in family tax benefits, a freeze on indexing of pension or other government payments or paying the ‘Temporary Budget Repair Tax’ if high income earners) and also face increased cost of living pressures (including the increased excise petrol tax). There will be increase pressure on people to rationalise where to spend their money – including what they can ‘afford’ on medical and allied health care.

For further information about the Federal Budget 2014-2015 and how it may effect you and your clients – please contact Ronelle Hutchinson, Manager Policy and Advocacy at SPA on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on 03 96424899



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