What Māori-focused research has been undertaken in the field of speech-language therapy, what does this research tell us about the speech-language therapy needs of Māori, and what evidence is there in the broader health and education sectors for ways to address any inequities or problems with speech-language therapy service provision for Māori?
Communication difficulties can occur for babies with hearing impairments, for children struggling to acquire language or speak clearly, for youth in our justice system who don’t have the necessary language skills, for adults with brain injuries, neurological conditions or cancer, and for the elderly with dementia. When language and communication break down the consequences for the individual and their whānau are huge. Because language and culture are so intertwined, it is essential that whānau experiencing communication difficulties receive speech-language therapy that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Māori experiences in many areas of speech-language therapy have not been explored at all and so this project is focused on building Māori capability by providing an opportunity for highly skilled, motivated and well-connected Māori speech-language therapists (SLTs) to be involved in research. Building the capability of Māori SLTs will serve to build the capability of the organisations they work for and the whānau they serve. This will lead to greater realisation of Māori aspirations and capabilities for flourishing Māori, particularly those who are marginalised socially, economically and culturally because of communication difficulties.