Media release: Speech pathologists champion phonics and increased presence in schools as key to addressing Australia's reading crisis

In response to the alarming findings unveiled by the Grattan Institute's report on Australia's literacy crisis, Speech Pathology Australia is stepping forward to advocate for a national evidence-based phonics approach and more certified speech pathologists in schools.

With one-third of Australian children struggling to read proficiently, the dire implications of this challenge underscore the urgent need for evidence-based interventions. As specialists in language development and communication disorders, speech pathologists bring unique expertise to the table.

"Speech pathologists are highly trained to support children in reading proficiently through a systematic phonics-based approach," said Speech Pathology Australia President Kathryn McKinley.

"They can work together with schools and educators who are seeking to improve their approaches to reading instruction."

With their specialist knowledge and expertise in language and literacy development, speech pathologists are positioned to support the Grattan Institute's call for a long-term target of 90% reading proficiency.

"While some children have diagnosed speech and language disorders, there are also many who may not yet have had this identified," Ms Mckinley said.

"This is where speech pathologists become indispensable in multidisciplinary teams, to champion inclusive education and support diverse learners.

"By doing so, we can ensure that every child has the opportunity to become the best reader they can be."

Additionally, speech pathologists celebrate the recognition of phonics instruction in the Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards. The Awards celebrate the best books for language and literacy development, and showcase the role speech pathologists play in helping children develop language and literacy skills.

How speech pathologists can help 

Speech pathologists play an important role in enhancing the quality of children's speech, language, communication, and swallowing/mealtime competencies so that they can participate successfully in the curriculum and the broader education environment. The available evidence indicates that speech pathology services positively impact the education and life trajectories of children with identified communication and swallowing/mealtime support needs.  


Date - 12 February 2024

Media contact: Rebecca Faltyn or Mingsia Lee 0439 385 769 or 1300 368 835 [email protected]

 Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body representing more than 14,500+ speech pathologists. The Association supports and regulates the ethical, clinical and professional standards of its members, as well as lobbying and advocating for access to services that benefit people with communication and swallowing difficulties.