Clinical Guidelines

Speech Pathology Australia (the Association) produces a range of practice documents to provide current information or opinion on clinical and workplace issues.  Practice documents include: clinical guidelines, position statements and core Association documents. 

A Clinical Guideline:

  • provides a comprehensive outline on clinical and workplace issues in a specific area of practice
  • reflects available evidence at a point in time
  • is written for speech pathologists however may also be referenced by management or consumers
  • maybe utilised to inform, guide and monitor speech pathology practice at an individual and organisational level.

A Clinical Guideline may be complemented by a Position Statement.  A Position Statement outlines the position of the Association on a particular topic and has an intended audience of external stakeholders, consumers, employers, other professional associations, funding bodies and policy makers and speech pathologists.

All Clinical Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Association core documents

Accessing Documents

Electronic versions are available to members free of charge. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions hard copies are not available at this time.

Clinical Guidelines

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a dynamic area of specialisation. This document contains a clinical guideline for speech pathologists assessing, treating, and supporting clients with complex communication needs who may benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Dysphagia: General

Work on the first Dysphagia Position Paper was commenced in 1991, as a result of an increasing involvement in the field of dysphagia by Australian speech pathologists. The paper was released in 1994, the same year the first Competency Based Occupational Standards (CBOS) for Speech Pathologists were released. Both these papers established baseline competency skills for newly graduated and experienced speech pathologists. Australian university speech pathology programs undergo regular accreditation to demonstrate that graduates meet the basic competencies established by Speech Pathology Australia. Since then the paper has been relabelled as a clinical guideline and has undergone a further two reviews in 2004 and 2011. This clinical guideline is the latest version and was authorised by Council in May 2012.

Evidence Based Speech Pathology Practice for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This Clinical Guideline has been developed to guide and support speech pathologists in their delivery of speech pathology services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. The aims of this guideline are to define: (a) the speech pathologists’ scope of practice in working with clients with an ASD and their families; (b) the principles of best practice based on the current research evidence, and (c) the specialist knowledge and skills that speech pathologists require in order to screen, assess, diagnose, treat, and consult to clients with ASD and their families effectively. See also: Position Statement.
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Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)

This Clinical Guideline has been developed to guide and support speech pathologists in the implementation of FEES in Australian healthcare contexts. This updates an earlier Speech Pathology Australia FEES Clinical Guideline.
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The Laryngectomy Clinical Guideline has been developed in response to requests from the membership of Speech Pathology Australia for the development of a clinical guideline for laryngectomy management. The Guideline provides speech pathologists with comprehensive information about the management of individuals who have had a laryngectomy from the pre-operative phase through to the long-term/ongoing management phase. The topics and content of the laryngectomy guideline address all aspects of communication and swallowing, and other important rehabilitation areas of focus; such as humidification and olfaction.
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Literacy has been identified as a basic human right. The Literacy Clinical Guideline has been developed to provide guidance to speech pathologists working in the literacy domain.
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Speech Pathology in Justice

It is the position of the Association that assessment, diagnosis and treatment of speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) and swallowing difficulties of individuals in the justice system is essential and within the scope of practice of speech pathologists. See also Position Statement.
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Speech Pathology in Mental Health

This Clinical Guideline aims to (a) improve the understanding of communication and swallowing in the context of mental health, (b) highlight the need for early intervention and prevention programs and (c) outline the role of speech pathologists in mental health services. See also: Position Statement.
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Speech Pathology Services in Schools

It is the position of the Association that access to appropriately structured speech pathology services in schools is integral to the achievement of educational outcomes for students with special needs in communication and/or oro-motor functioning. (Revised Dec 2011). See also: Position Statement.
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Stuttering Management

The commissioning by the Association of the present guideline was consistent with the requirement of speech pathology associations worldwide for their members to use evidence-based practices. It incorporates best evidence with clinical expertise and client needs.
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Tracheostomy Management

The role of the speech pathologist working with the tracheostomised population continues to expand and change with increases in evidence and technology. This clinical guideline reflects current issues for speech pathologists in Tracheostomy Management and builds upon the evidence provided in the 1996 and 2005 versions of the clinical guideline. The Tracheostomy Management Clinical Guideline 2013 is intended to provide information about the speech pathology management of the neonate, child and adult with a tracheostomy. The guideline also discusses the increasing role of the speech pathologist in the process of decannulation and the management of ventilator assisted patients.
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Videofluoroscopy Swallowing Study (VFSS)

In 2005 the Australia published the position paper titled ‘Dysphagia: Modified Barium Swallow (MBS)’. Since that time the evidence base for the ‘modified barium swallow’ and the terminology in this field have advanced and hence the need to update the position paper with current evidence. ‘Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study’ (VFSS) is now the most widely used title used in professional and academic settings. To reflect current development, this 2013 clinical guideline is named ‘Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study’. The aim of this clinical guideline document is to provide evidenced based guidelines for the assessment and management of clients with dysphagia using the Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS). It is intended for both paediatric and adult populations presenting with oral-pharyngeal dysphagia of any cause and presentation. This clinical guideline has been developed to ensure comprehensive evidence based information on VFSS is available as a standard for all speech pathology services and practising clinicians. It is specific to the role of VFSS in dysphagia management. VFSS is one part of the decision making process in dysphagia management and results will need to be interpreted within a person-centred approach alongside other influencing factors.
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Voice Best Practice Principles Resource

The purpose of this document is to identify and describe a range of professional practices and principles which guide the provision of speech pathology services to individuals with voice problems and related laryngeal disorders. This document is intended for use by speech pathologists in Australia to ensure that relevant standards of practice are being met at an individual and organisational level.
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Working in a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Society

This Clinical Guideline has three main purposes: Member only download