Speech Pathology Australia is one of the founding organisations behind the International Communication Project (initially the International Communication Project 2014 or ICP2014).
The project was initially conceived by the speech pathology associations in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Australia. It was also endorsed by the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics and organisations and countries from around the world are invited to join the campaign.
In 2014, the aim of the ICP2014 was to spread the word about the vital importance of communication to all aspects of our lives and the critical difference that communication professionals can make – especially when they are involved early.
In 2015, the ‘International Communication Project 2014’ evolved into the ‘International Communication Project’ (ICP).
The aims of the ICP are to:
- Raise the profile and status of communication disability with international health bodies and policy makers;
- Increase public awareness of communication disability and the severe impact it has on people's lives;
- Encourage people around the world to join together to make a difference in the lives of people living with communication disability.
In resolving to continue the project, the founding organisations agreed that the focus in 2015 should be more specific and targetted.
To this end, in 2015 the ICP engaged Weber Shandwick, an internationally recognised consultant, to give effect to this new focus.
In achieving this, Weber Shandwick developed a framework of action that now guides the ICP as its advocate for a higher profile and status for communication disabilities with international bodies and policy makers for the purpose of securing explicit recognition of communication disabilities in world health policy.
In June 2018, the Association was granted Non-Government Organisation (NGO) Accreditation Status by the United Nations (UN). Around the same time, the Association’s application for new NGO accreditation to the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) was approved by consensus at the first meeting at the CoSP 11th session in New York on 12 June 2018. As a result of this new status, Speech Pathology Australia is able to send delegations to the CRPD CoSP, participate in UN meetings and the Civil Society forum concerning the implementation of the Convention, and host a side event at future CRPD Conferences of States Parties.
2019 UN side event
On 12 June 2019, Speech Pathology Australia, with the support of The Royal College of Speech Language Therapists, American Speech–Language–Hearing Association and the International Communication Project, hosted a dedicated side event as part of the activities surrounding the 12th session of the Conference of State Parties (COSP) to the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The COSP was conducted at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York from 11 to 13 June 2019.
The side event was titled, People with Communication Disabilities Speak Up for Inclusion and Participation: How the implementation of the CRPD and Sustainable Development Goals can support his right. The event was broadcast 'live' on the UN TV website. View a replay of this event.
With the Association being the lead organisation, it was honoured by having the event co-sponsored by the Australian Government.
The aim of the event was to raise the profile and status of communication disabilities with international health bodies (like the UN) and their policy makers, while gaining explicit recognition of communication disability in the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Read the article that appeared in Speak Out June 2019.
Celebrating the UDHR in 2018
On 10 December 2018, Speech Pathology Australia celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a landmark document in the history of human rights and was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948.
Article 19 of the UDHR was one of the first contemporary expressions of the right to communication. It reads:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
This authoritative statement emphasises that all people have the right to communicate.
Speech Pathology Australia, together with the other founding members of the International Communication Project actively worked to use the anniversary as an opportunity to promote communication as a basic human right and to advance the ICP’s advocacy agenda.
Early in 2018, an article written by Gail Mulcair, the Association’s Chief Executive Office, Arlene Pietranton (ASHA), and Cori Williams (SPA) appeared in the special edition of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (IJSLP), titled “Communication is a human right: Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
The ICP article titled, “The International Communication Project: Raising global awareness of communication as a human right”, outlines the advocacy work and agenda of the ICP, and how the ICP is striving to raise the profile and status of communication disabilities with international health bodies and policy makers. Professor Sharynne McLeod was the guest editor for the special IJSLP edition and has been a champion in raising international awareness of communication as a human right. Learn more about the special edition of the IJSLP.
In 2018 members of Speech Pathology Australia attended several workshops and forums to promote communication as a human right against the backdrop of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These included, sessions at the ASHA Convention in Boston, as well as a forum at the University of Technology Sydney.
In addition, the Association’s communication and marketing team were very active in the lead up to 70th anniversary, managing and overseeing the production of a video (Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 70 year anniversary) and a range of social media collateral to promote the anniversary.