Establishing and sustaining a new interprofessional allied health student placement

Wendy Foley, Amy Fagan, Karen Liddle


Meeting the increasing demand for allied health (AH) clinical placements is challenging (McBride, Fitzgerald, Morrison, & Hulcombe, 2015), as is providing experience for AH students in authentic interprofessional practice (Copley et al., 2007). Furthermore, limited opportunities exist to develop AH students’ skills in working effectively with Indigenous clients (Hill, Nelson, Copley, Quinlan, & White, 2017), due to the low number of health professionals practising in Indigenous communities (Nelson, Shannon, & Carson, 2013; Whitford, Taylor, & Thomas, 2013). 

The need for paediatric AH services for developmentally-vulnerable children in the Inala Indigenous community was identified in 2014 by the Southern Queensland Centre of Excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care’s (CoE) visiting paediatrician. Children in the region are developmentally vulnerable in all domains, particularly in language and communication, where the average percentage of vulnerable children is twice that in the Queensland population and more than double the national figures (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). In 2014, the demand for the local mainstream public child development service exceeded capacity, leading to lengthy waiting lists. With few nearby private AH practices offering paediatric services, many Inala paediatric patients were unable to access comprehensive AH assessments and care. At the time, no paediatric AH clinical services or training opportunities existed within the CoE.


student placement; interprofessional; allied health; speech pathology; occupational therapy; physiotherapy; Aboriginal and Torres Strait; primary health care

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