The old expression claims that “it takes a village to raise a child” and cohealth’s Child and Family Health team can be part of that village.
Child and Family Health covers a huge variety of paediatric support services for young children and their networks, including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists (OTs), Physiotherapists, Counsellors, Psychologists and HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters).
Anna Wallace, Paediatric Speech Pathologist, and Natalie Tomkins, Paediatric OT, discuss their work and the impact it can have on those facing challenges.
“As an OT,” says Natalie, “I support children from birth to school entry age with mild to moderate delays in their development, whether that’s poor fine motor skills, challenges being independent, as well as difficulties with play skills, sensory processing, attention, emotional regulation and body coordination, just to name a few.”
In Speech Pathology, Anna works with a similar age group to Natalie’s. “I work with children up to school entry age who also have mild to moderate speech difficulties. But in the areas I work, it’s more expressive and receptive language: how they use and understand words. We also look at stuttering, clarity of speech, voice quality, and social interaction from a language perspective.”
Like all cohealth services, Child and Family Health sees a wide diversity among its clients.
“We work over many different local government areas and our priority is the more vulnerable families who can’t easily access other services,” explains Nat. “We see families with refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds, recent migrants to Australia, those struggling with housing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and families grappling with the mental health of the parents.”
“Between Speech Pathology and the OTs, we try to prioritise those vulnerable families, because we’re often the only avenue they have for support for their child[ren],” Anna continues, “and it’s a huge spectrum in terms of accessibility.”
Support for children and families can vary incredibly day-to-day, with the team able to bring many different approaches to their work. But Natalie says that this is part of the fun of the role.