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Implementation of local protocols

Speech pathologists should implement local protocols that guide working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Reference: Coffin et al. 2004
NHMRC level of Evidence: GPP

General principles can underpin engagement activities and assist in the development of relationships and appropriate cross-cultural communication and cultural security.  Such principles may include being respectful; being informed and informing others; establishing sustainable relationships; behaving ethically; being meaningful; being outcomes focussed and ensuring follow-up and feedback occur.  It should be recognised that every community is unique and that great diversity exists in Aboriginal and Torres Islander society.  Therefore speech pathologists should collaborate with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to develop respectful local protocols. 

 In line with research proposing and evaluating service delivery models in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations (Isaacs et al., 2010; Reibel & Walker 2010; Keightly et al., 2009) , people-centred primary care is a central notion, with communities being involved in all steps of the development of viable and sustainable programs.  A recent study (Gauld, Smith & Kendall, 2011) noted that Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) (Helander, 2007) for people with TBI was only successful if extensive community consultation occurred, with all key stakeholders included in the development of such programs.

Recommendation: Talk to the Aboriginal Liaison Officer about local networks, elders in order to be able to follow up, as contact details may change.  Community links are essential to maintain contact.  


  1. Coffin, J., Hermeston, W., Merritt, G., Baraga, J., Quartermaine, M., Dhu, J., Allen, S., Black, C., McDonald, A., Ronan, M., & Ashwin, S. (2004). National Stroke Unit Program Aboriginal Stroke Project, Melbourne: National Stroke Foundation.


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Professor Linda Worrall
The University of Queensland
ST LUCIA QLD 4072   



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