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And the winner is….

Katrina Tosi from SWSLHD Primary and Community Health receives the award on behalf of the “Help, my toddler’s not talking” research team from Ms Grainne O’Loughlin, Company Secretary and CEO, Karitane, Council and Executive Member of  SWSR, presents award to Katrina Tosi from SWSLHD Primary and Community Health


The development of a communication assessment protocol aimed at tackling the problem of late speech in toddlers, has taken out the 2019 South West Sydney Research Collaboration Achievement Award.

The South West Sydney Collaborative Achievement Award, which aims to recognise the excellent collaborative research being undertaken by our members, was presented at the Ingham Awards Dinner on November 14.

The “Help, my toddler’s not talking! Evaluating the feasibility of the Toddler Communication Assessment Protocol” project involved collaboration across disciplines and institutions. Four speech pathologists and a paediatrician from SWSLHD: Primary and Community Health (P&CH) unit teamed up with five speech pathology researchers from the University of Sydney and two international collaborators from the USA to develop and test a comprehensive toddler communication assessment protocol.

The reason?

Late talking is a common problem. However, it is difficult to determine whether the problem can be safely ignored or if it is a specific type of communication difficulty or a complex problem like Autism Spectrum Disorder. With more than 1800 referrals to the unit each year (40% being toddlers), it was obvious that early assessment using a communication assessment protocol was needed.

Forming the collaborative team in 2017, work continued over a series of meetings across 2018 at which clinicians discussed key challenges as well as their current methods of practice. The researchers from University of Sydney and international collaborators from Boys Town National Research Hospital, Nebraska and University of Vermont, considered these challenges and looked at the latest research as well as international Best Practice.

“There was a lot of work around what would be feasible to take from International Best Practice to implement for the community of South West Sydney,” says Dr. Elise Baker, Senior Lecturer with The University of Sydney, and Honorary Researcher with SWSLHD.

Katrina Tosi, from P&CH who collected the award on behalf of the team, explained that the success of their collaboration was due to the mutual respect between clinicians and researchers.

“The researchers respected what frontline clinicians thought was feasible,” she explains. “All the voices were heard.”

While the initial assessment protocol has been developed, the next stage of testing is currently being implemented across Community Health Centres in SWSLHD.

“Clinician feedback will help inform potential changes to the protocol,” says Katrina.

“We also want to continue our collaboration by considering further ways to support children who are late to talk from across the range of cultural and linguistically diverse communities in South West Sydney.”

The “Help! My toddler’s not talking” research team