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Giving a voice to people with a disability, among rewards for Speech Pathology graduate

Published:06 November 2019

Hannah Thompson at a recent Valedictory Dinner celebrating Indigenous graduates of CQUniversity.

When CQUniversity Speech Pathology graduate Hannah Thompson sets out for a work day, she knows she will be challenged and rewarded.

"Many of my clients at CPL, a disability services and support organisation, are non-verbal, so I use a range of communication aids to give them a voice," Hannah says.

"We can work with a speech generator or a switch which gives them the chance to respond with Yes or No answers."

As a proud Indigenous woman from the Kara Kara tribe of the Central Highlands region, Hannah hopes to blend her love of Speech Pathology with her passion for helping close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the healthcare and education sectors.

The BMA Scholarship recipient says she was originally inspired to focus on Speech Pathology after a touching personal experience.

“I had no idea what speech pathologists did until my grandmother had a stroke. In the hospital, I saw first-hand the speech pathologist work with her to improve her swallowing and her speech.”

“From there I went home and researched the profession and fell in love. I know this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”

Hannah is based in Rockhampton but often goes on outreach trips to Gladstone and Emerald on behalf of her employer. She juggles her work life with sporting pursuits as a keen netball player and school team coach.

"I'm especially loving working with children with a disability," she says. "I was first inspired in this area when I worked with children in Thailand therapy centres, as part of a Speech Pathology overseas excursion organised through CQUGlobal Outbound."

Speech Pathology Australia recently invited Hannah to provide input to members on aspects of Indigenous culture which relate to the organisation's competency standards.

This peak body input follows Hannah's 2018 involvement in a select network connecting the grassroots view of Indigenous Allied Health students to the national vision of Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

During her time as a CQUni student, she also volunteered for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.