The Speech Pathology Speed Sessions team has been awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Stewardship.
The team, comprised of Senior Lecturer (Speech Pathology) Dr Kerry Ttofari Eecen, Senior Lecturer (Speech Pathology) Dr Kieran Flanagan, Head of Discipline (Speech Pathology) and Deputy Head (Interim), School of Allied Health NSW Associate Professor Jane McCormack and Administrative Officer Anita Drakulic, were recognised for their work coordinating a free, evidence-based and sustainable professional development program for practising speech pathologists, ACU alumni and students.
The Speed Session program was originally started as a teleconference program in 2015 by Dr Simone Arnott. Since that time, it has transformed into a series of monthly pre-recorded 30-minute web-based lectures by experts in speech-language pathology and related fields. The sessions are shared with a distribution list that has grown to more than 1800 subscribers.
Volunteers at the heart of the program
Dr Kerry Ttofari Eecen is the Speed Sessions program coordinator. She said the program is made possible by the generosity of volunteer presenters.
“All the presenters are volunteers. They’re mainly from the Speech Pathology discipline at ACU, but we have also asked academics from other disciplines within ACU to present, as well as ACU Counselling and the Research Impact office. We invite external speakers from other universities and the community to present as well,” she said.
Kerry said volunteer presenters are just one of the factors that make the program a strong example of stewardship.
“It’s a sustainable program because we’ve set up the processes, we've set up the infrastructure and it can be used by other disciplines or departments at ACU.”
Sharing knowledge to benefit stakeholders and their clients
The feedback from stakeholders has shown the program’s impact both for speech pathologists and their clients.
“We receive a lot of emails and verbal feedback to our professional practice coordinators from speech pathologists in the community about how useful they find this program,” Kerry said.
“They’re happy that it’s free and also that the sessions are quick so they don’t have to spend a lot of time accessing them – they’re bite sized sessions that can be accessed any time, so people can view them at their convenience.”
For speech-language pathology consumers and clients, the program is also valuable, as each session is based on up-to-date research that can inform effective service provision.
“Speech pathologists using evidence-based practice benefits the clients,” said Kerry.
She said the team was honoured to receive the Excellence in Stewardship Award.
“The program was originally founded on the belief that, as academics, we are in a privileged position to have access to so many resources that a lot of people out there don’t have,” she said. “The founding principle was that it’s our duty as academics to share knowledge with people in the community. That’s consistent with ACU’s commitment to community service, so it’s a real honour to be recognised in this way.”
Future plans to expand
The monthly Speed Sessions are currently focused on speech pathology, but plans are in place to expand the program to the other allied health disciplines.
“We're planning to extend the program to the whole of the School of Allied Health from next year, using the same processes,” said Kerry.
If you would like to join the Speed Sessions mailing list, please contact email@example.com.
Dr Kerry Ttofari Eecen with Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis