The University of Newcastle, Australia

New gives a voice to those who need it most. In her role as Head of the Speech Pathology Program, Dr Sally Hewat gives the gift of expression to people in developing communities throughout the Asia Pacific region.

Currently, Sally is working through Trinh Foundation Australia and their Vietnam partners to help establish the first undergraduate speech therapy program in Vietnam, that will enable teachers there to carry on her work. But Sally also works with partner groups as a supporter, advisor and advocate for speech and language therapy in China, Sri Lanka, and Fiji.

I deliver university programs, workshops, interpreter training, mentoring and more,” says Sally.

For University of Newcastle students and graduates, this translates to exciting opportunities for placements within these communities. Those enrolled in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in project and clinical work in Vietnam.

We recently had eight students return from three weeks in Vietnam, and their responses to the experience were overwhelming. They get to be hands-on and work with levels of complexity that they wouldn't get to in Australia – working with children and professionals who speak a totally different language," Hewat said.

Before Trinh Foundation's activities in Vietnam, many of these areas had little or no resources for speech pathology programs; for these communities, speech pathology represents the creation of an entirely new discipline.

We’re supporting the development of a new profession in developing communities,” she says. "I like the process of collaborating and supporting others to capacity build. Not to have outside influences come in and say we'll do it for you; it is more capacity building from the ground up."

For individuals with speech issues, the impact of this advancement is profound. Speech difficulties can have a lifelong impact on quality of education, job attainment, and mental wellness. The programs Sally is supporting focus on giving young children the tools to speak with confidence. In Vietnam, this meant over 100 children who were previously kept at home were able to attend school, make friends, and reach their potential.

For her part, Sally is inspired by the incredible network of people who make her work possible.

What motivates me is the people who are so grateful, enthused and make so many sacrifices for the development of better health and health services in their country,” says Sally.

Dr Sally Hewat

Dr Sally Hewat

Speech pathologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science

We’re supporting the development of a new profession in developing communities.

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