There are 1.2 million Australians with communication disability. Speech pathologists like Amanda Osborne from Arcadia Pittwater Private Hospital know that good communication for all results in better communities.

“On the Northern Beaches today, communication disability remains largely invisible. Unseen and out-of-sight,” Ms Osborne said.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by Australians with communication disability.

That’s why during Speech Pathology Week, from 21-27 August, Arcadia Pittwater Private Hospital is highlighting the week’s theme: Good Communication, Better Communities.

“Communication is a basic human right,’ added Ms Osborne. “It is fundamental to a person’s ability to participate fully in the social, educational, economic and sporting aspects of our Northern Beaches community.

“Many Australians with communication disability cannot maximise educational, health and social outcomes, without the intervention of a speech pathologist.”

Only 38 per cent of Australians with communication disability are participating in the workforce, compared to 80 per cent of people without communication disability.

People with communication disability are also less likely to have a non-school qualification (42 per cent), than those without communication disability (61 per cent).

“Communication, by definition, involves at least two people. It is important that everyone understands that communication is more than speech.

“Australians with communication difficulties communicate with others using a variety of ways, including sign language, electronic speech devices, or word-based or picture-based communication boards or books.

“Technology is playing a growing and vital role in keeping Australians with communication difficulties engaged with their family and friends.

“Greater public dialogue about communication disabilities broadens awareness and helps create more informed and empathetic communities,” added Ms Osborne.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has established that 1.2 million Australians have communication disability. Communication disability affects a person’s ability to understand and be understood by others.

  • Levels of limitation range from mild to profound and can be temporary or last a lifetime.
  • Children and older people make up the majority of people with communication disability.
  • Children are more likely to have profound/severe communication disability than older people.
  • People with communication disability were less likely to have a non-school qualification (42%) than people without communication disability (61%).
  • Thirty-eight percent of people with communication disability are participating in the labour force compared with 80% of people without communication disability.
  • One in 7 people with communication disability need formal assistance with communication.
  • Half of all people who need formal assistance with communication have an unmet need for this assistance.
  • Three in 5 people who have an unmet need for formal assistance with communication were children.

For information about Speech Pathology Week, visit