HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [5.31 pm]: I rise to say a few words to mark the upcoming International Stuttering Awareness Day, which is next Monday, 22 October. Monday will mark 21 years of Stuttering Awareness Day. The Australian Speak Easy Association is the peak body for Australians who have the lived experienced of stuttering. Speech Pathology Australia is the peak body of speech therapists, and both of these groups have released a joint awareness statement, which was read by Mark Irwin, the president of ASEA. The statement notes that stuttering impacts the lives of one to two per cent of adults and four to five per cent of children. It has been shown to be associated with the same quality of life impairments as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. It receives far less attention and publicity and remains poorly understood by the wider Australian community. More than 20 per cent of seven to 12-year-olds and at least 40 per cent of adults who seek stuttering therapy also suffer anxiety disorders. Early intervention remains key, but for some individuals anxiety management is also required. They have three main asks. The first is that people with significant anxiety be provided with access to a mental health professional rather than simply a speech pathologist alone. ASEA and Speech Pathology Australia seek to provide greater awareness about the need for comprehensive service provision and they ask for urgent government action, which they say is needed to raise awareness about stuttering in schools and particularly the harm that bullying and teasing in schools does to children who stutter.
ASEA will hold its conference in Melbourne from next Friday through to Sunday, 28 October. The theme is “Fluency—A wider view”. The range of topics and presenters is wide, from possible genetic causes of stuttering through to the experiences of people with a stutter learning other languages. If any member is going to be in Melbourne next week, it might useful for them to drop into that conference. It would be good for all members to learn more about the impacts of stuttering.