Background Image
Previous Page  15 / 60 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 15 / 60 Next Page
Page Background

Diversity in practice


Volume 17, Number 1 2015


felt less confident working with Indigenous than non-

Indigenous clients (Hersh, Armstrong, Panak, & Coombes,

2014). This article provides an overview of key contextual

issues and challenges in managing aphasia in bilingual and

CALD individuals in Australia, as well as providing practical

recommendations SLPs can implement within their clinical


Linguistic environment in


According to data from the 2011 Australian census, nearly

one in five people (around 4 million in total) speak a

language other than English (LOTE) at home (ABS, 2013c).

This figure does not indicate whether these individuals also

speak English or other additional languages. Those who do

speak English or other languages, in addition to the

language spoken at home, may be considered to be

bilingual or multilingual while others may simply be

non-English speakers or have limited proficiency in English.

One of the unique characteristics of the Australian linguistic

environment is the wide diversity of languages spoken: over

260 languages from diverse areas of the globe (Department

of Social Services, 2013). The specific proportion and

pattern of language diversity can vary between different

regions of Australia and may also change over time. For

example, in Brisbane, two or more languages are reportedly

spoken in 15.5% of households, with the top five LOTEs

being Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Samoan, and

Spanish (ABS, 2013a). In contrast, 32.4% of households in

Melbourne report two or more languages being spoken,

with the top five LOTEs being Greek, Italian, Mandarin,

Vietnamese and Cantonese (ABS, 2013b). In recent years,

Chinese languages have become the most widely spoken

LOTEs in Australia, overtaking Italian and Greek, and this

may reflect changes in immigration patterns.

Regional differences, as well as changes in language use

over time, also exist for speakers of Indigenous languages.

In 2008, 73% of Indigenous people aged 15 years or over

living in a remote area spoke, or spoke some words of, an

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language, in comparison

to 32% of people living in metropolitan areas and 28% in

regional areas (ABS, 2010). A crucial issue in relation to

Australian Indigenous languages is the loss of languages

over time. The most recent National Indigenous Languages

Survey indicated that only 120 out of 250 Australian

Indigenous languages were still spoken, with around 110

described as severely or critically endangered (Marmion,

Obata, & Troy, 2014).

In Australia, cultural and linguistic diversity is

a crucial factor to be addressed in planning

and delivering rehabilitation services for

individuals with aphasia and their families.

Challenges include the extensive number of

languages spoken by Indigenous and migrant

Australians, as well as limited research

evidence pertaining to assessment and

intervention for people with bilingual aphasia.

In addition, clinical challenges include lack of

consistent terminology used to refer to

people with aphasia who are bilingual or from

culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

backgrounds and limited existing resources

for speech pathology management of this

population. This paper outlines key issues

relevant to speech pathology management of

people with aphasia who are bilingual or from

CALD backgrounds and identifies gaps in the

existing research literature. Recommendations

for clinical management are discussed and the

imperative for further research is illustrated.


ustralia is a culturally and linguistically diverse

society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

people, the original inhabitants of the Australian

continent (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, n.d.),

have a rich and diverse cultural and linguistic heritage. In

contemporary Australian society, more than a quarter of

the population were born overseas and around one-fifth

speak a language other than English at home (Australian

Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2011a). The cultural and

linguistic diversity found among the Australian populace can

create challenges for speech-language pathologists (SLPs)

working with individuals with communication disability.

A recent survey investigating the aphasia rehabilitation

practices of Australian SLPs found that around 50% of

respondents rated their knowledge of, and confidence in,

working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

clients as less than adequate (Rose, Ferguson, Power,

Togher, & Worrall, 2014). Similarly, a national survey

exploring SLP practices with Indigenous Australians with

acquired communication disorders identified that 67% of

respondents who were currently seeing Indigenous clients

Managing aphasia in bilingual

and culturally and linguistically

diverse individuals in an

Australian context

Challenges and future directions

Samantha Siyambalapitiya and Bronwyn Davidson













(top) and