Embedding speech pathology in an Aboriginal community-controlled playgroup: Perceptions from the community





early childhood education, playgroup, community, communication development, speech pathology


Colonisation in Australia has had long-term, pervasive, detrimental impacts on Indigenous Australians. When measured by national benchmarks, Indigenous children in Australia are currently at increased risk of developmental difficulties in comparison to their non-Indigenous peers. Community-led initiatives, such as playgroups, can provide safe and developmentally stimulating environments for Indigenous infants and young children, and deliver lasting benefits. These contexts also provide opportunities for collaborative approaches to develop children’s early communication skills. A participatory action research approach was applied to explore parent/carer perspectives about incorporating speech pathology into an existing community-led Aboriginal playgroup in an urban context. The speech pathology service took the form of information sharing sessions between the speech pathologist and the playgroup members. Collaborative planning and implementation of the project was followed by discussion among the participants and co-researchers about the cultural safety and helpfulness of the speech pathology service. The complexity of incorporating services delivered by non-Indigenous people in an Aboriginal community-controlled playgroup was acknowledged. The information sharing sessions were regarded as helpful and acceptable by the community. However, in the planning and implementation of the service, cultural and community needs must be considered as a precedent and priority to ensure a culturally safe and strong environment.


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Author Biographies

Gwendalyn Webb, University of Newcastle

Gwendalyn Webb is a lecturer in speech pathology at the University of Newcastle, on Awabakal land. Over the past 30 years she has collaborated with a variety of partners to research and practice speech pathology for children and families. Gwendalyn is honoured to have collaborated with Awabakal on this project.

Bella Bird, Awabakal Preschools

Bella Gordon is a descendant of the Bundjalung Nation and has grown up on Awabakal Country. Bella has acquired more than 12 years of experience in the early education sector, including five years directing, leading and managing an Aboriginal preschool in Newcastle NSW, Awabakal Preschool. In 2023, Bella became the Early Childhood Education Officer for the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, focusing on advocating for child, family and community support; actively incorporating Aboriginal perspectives into programs and practices; and establishing culturally safe spaces for children and families.


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How to Cite

Webb, G., & Bird, B. (2023). Embedding speech pathology in an Aboriginal community-controlled playgroup: Perceptions from the community. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 52(2). https://doi.org/10.55146/ajie.v52i2.323