Thinking about speech pathology as a career?

Speech pathology is a rewarding allied health career where you can make a difference in the lives of the young and old. In this blog during Speech Pathology Week (23 – 29 August), CQUniversity Speech Pathology lecturer Clancy Conlon and fourth-year student Suzie Hutchings unpack the profession, giving you some real insight into what it takes to be a ‘speechy’.

What does a speech pathologist do?

Speech pathologists diagnose and treat communication disorders which can include speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, social skills, voice and even swallowing. When you train as a speech pathologist, you learn to do A LOT of different jobs! About 1.2 million Australians live with a communication disability – people with developmental delays, strokes, brain injuries, learning disabilities, hearing loss, Autism Spectrum Disorder – the list is endless.

Can you imagine what it would be like to not have a voice? To not be able to talk to your friends or family? Speech Pathologists make sure that everybody has a voice so that they can live their best life possible.

Speech pathologists also assess and treat swallowing difficulties. From newborn babies with a cleft palate to the elderly with dementia, many different people may see a speech pathologist to help them eat and drink safely.

What makes a good speech pathologist?

Speech pathologists come in all different shapes, forms and personalities and you can always find a speciality in speech pathology that will suit your individual needs. Generally, speech pathologists are kind, compassionate and committed health professionals who want quality outcomes for their clients. You’ll make a good speech pathologist if you:

  • Enjoy helping people
  • Have good verbal, written and social communication skills
  • Like problem solving and finding solutions
  • Value teamwork and building relationships with people
  • Are interested in lifelong learning, where you have regular opportunities to update your knowledge and skillset to provide quality care to clients.

What is it like to study speech pathology?

Studying speech pathology at CQUniversity is an overall wonderful experience. There is an abundance of opportunities to gain work experience in a variety of health settings, and with all kinds of people. The advantage of studying speech pathology at CQUniversity is the one-on-one support from the lecturers due to the smaller class sizes. At CQUniversity, the speech pathology students are able to collaborate with other allied health professional students to learn from one another in order to reach the client’s goals.

The course is challenging in the best ways possible. As a speech pathology student, you cover a diverse range of content such as human anatomy and physiology of the head and neck; phonetics; speech, language and swallowing development across the lifespan; neurogenic communication disorders; and more! You even conduct an Honours research project as a part of the course.

Why should you study speech pathology?

Speech pathology is an amazing career avenue because you can work in so many different sectors – schools, nursing homes, hospitals, private practice, community health and not for profit organisations. The need for speech pathologists is consistent and growing, which makes it a great course to study if you are unsure of what health career to go into. If you want a flexible job, where you get to support people to maintain the best quality of life possible, then speech pathology is for you!

The Authors

Clancy Conlon is a lecturer in Speech Pathology at CQUniversity based in Rockhampton. Before becoming a lecturer, Clancy worked in the disability industry supporting children with complex needs and is passionate about specialist support for children who require alternative means of communication.

Suzie Hutchings is a fourth-year  Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours) student studying at CQUniversity based in Rockhampton. She enjoys the hands-on experiences offered in her course. Currently, Suzie is completing a six-week block placement at a remote hospital in North West Queensland, working with both adults and young children who are experiencing communication and swallowing difficulties. Suzie is passionate about all the practice areas of speech pathology and hopes to work in a generalist role after her graduation.

Cyber and Phishing attacks: How to stay off the hook

By Dr Mahmoud Elkhodr

Cybercriminals continue to target Australians through a range of cyberattacks including scams, viruses, malware, hacks, fraud, phishing schemes – you’ve heard it all. With more people increasingly working remotely from home, cybercriminals have been exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic with a new set of cyber threats as well.  

What is a cyberattack? 

A cyberattack is an attempt to disable, gain unauthorised access, or steal private information from devices as simple as your laptop, mobile device, or tablet, and more importantly, from critical infrastructure systems such as servers, network devices, databases, and more recently from Cloud and IoT systems and devices.  

A cyberattack can be used as well as a platform to launch additional more sophisticated attacks. A reconnaissance attack, for instance, is used by an attacker to gather information and learn about the targets’ vulnerabilities. Including collecting information about the protocols and security mechanisms they use so they can choose the right tools to launch their attacks.  

The latest round of cyber-attacks on Australia reported last month by the Prime Minister were likely the result of previous “reconnaissance attacks”, which revealed existing vulnerabilities in Australian networks.  

Phishing attacks also remain among the most common method used by cybercriminals. Phishing and spear-phishing is a method of stealing confidential information by tricking and luring the victim to hand over their personal information. Phishing is not just limited to email. These scams can be executed via text messages, social media such as Facebook, and VOIP messaging services such as WhatsApp.  

Who is behind these attacks? 

Most cyberattacks are often motivated by financial gain. Other motivations include cyberwarfare, hacktivism (making a political or social point) or simply script kiddies taking on an intellectual challenge for some fun. These can be categorised as threats from outside the organisation. Insiders, on the other hand, are anyone with physical or digital access to your organisation. These are your trusted employees, customers, contractors, and business partners. Insiders attacks amount for over 60% of all cyber-attacks. An insider attack is not always an intended act but more commonly happens by accident i.e. through employee’s carelessness or negligence.  

Examples include opening spam or suspicious links and email attachments (known as phishing), transporting company information via unsecured portable devices, choosing weak passwords and using the same password on multiple accounts. The latest creates what is a known as a single point of failure. That’s, if you use the same weak password on multiple websites or platforms, it will only take for one of your account to be compromised for the rest to fall apart. 

What can people do to best protect themselves from cyber-attacks? 

To remain cyber safe, we must maintain strong cyber security practices. This includes: 

  • Use a strong and unique password. Tips can be found here (Avast tips). 
  • Use two-factor authentication. 
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Always verify the source of information and secure your devices when they are not in use 
  • Protect yourself against phishing attacks by never providing personal details via a link sent to you in a message. 
  • Think before you click on a link and ask yourself: Do I know the sender? Does it look suspicious? 
  • Check that your internet connection is secure before providing any personal information look for the S in your browser HTTPS or look for the lock pad icon in your browser. 
  • Be careful with what you download, where you do your online shopping, and practice safe browsing 
  • Shopping, banking, donating, contests, freebies, or your Nigerian prince. If it is too good to be true, then it is not true! 
  • It goes without saying to keep your antivirus, your OS and any software you use updated and patched. 
  • And finally, be nice online and treat people the way you would want to be treated 
Dr Mahmoud Elkhodr

Dr Mahmoud Elkhodr has a PhD in the areas of Internet of Things Security and Privacy.  Dr Elkhodr is currently coordinating and lecturing a new unit on Cyber Security Management. 

Australia under cyber attack

By Ritesh Chugh, CQUniversity’s information systems expert

Dr Ritesh Chugh

As I write this, Australia is under a cyber attack and the enormity of it can be assessed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeing the need to urgently call a press conference. While we know that Australia (and other nations) are subject to cyber-attacks regularly, it is concerning that this large-scale attack is “targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of Government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.”

The PM also said a sophisticated, state-based cyber actor is involved because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used. Hence, this could also be seen as an act of cyber warfare.

“… this could also be seen as an act of cyber warfare.”

The Australian Cyber Security Centre attributes the attack to ‘Copy-paste compromises’, in which a malicious actor exploits public-facing infrastructure to target networks and looks for vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the state-based cyber actor utilised spear phishing in which malicious emails are sent to specific targets.

For the general public, the advice is to be extra vigilant, check every email-transmitted file you open even if it appears to be coming from a trusted source and update to the latest version of protection software that blocks viruses, ransomware, spyware, key stroke loggers and so forth.

For organisations, the advice is to patch their Internet-facing infrastructure, update operating systems, secure hardware by changing passwords, back up all data, and use multi-factor authentication. It also is important that organisations (whether they have been attacked or not) communicate with their staff to apprise them of the situation and the defences they have in place to mitigate such cyber attacks.

“Such malicious cyber activity not only has an impact on our national security but portrays Australia in a weak light globally.”

Such malicious cyber activity not only has an impact on our national security but portrays Australia in a weak light globally. The impact of this cyber-attack on organisations and the general public will only become clearer in the upcoming days.

Finally, as such cyber-attacks are increasing in frequency, it is critical the Australian Government takes a robust approach towards its cyber defence. Cyber attacks should not become political weapons.

ATAR and me: A new relationship

By Chilli Crawford, a Rockhampton-based 2020 Year 12 student

As a Queensland student moving into Year 12 in 2020 – staring down the barrel of my QCE (Queensland Certificate of Education – the HSC and VCE equivalent), finishing school and applying for university – the ATAR system came as a very daunting surprise. When my fellow Year 11 cohort and I were told of the complete renovation of the old OP system and that we were the pioneers (or rather guinea pigs) for the new ATAR system, we were all extremely hesitant. Although the ATAR system made the grading scales much fairer between public and private schools, the influx of self-learning and teaching immediately displeased us as we felt as if we were already stressed and overworked as it was. However, in hindsight, the issues and complaints we expressed simply sprouted from a fear of change. As throughout my current and ongoing experience with ATAR, I have found that whilst there is now a significant amount of self-management placed on me, the system and marking criteria is ultimately quite beneficial.

Continue reading ATAR and me: A new relationship

Researchers facing the media

By Alex Russell, CQUni researcher and Radio National ABC Science Top 5 Scientists for 2019

Do you have a great research finding, and want to spread the word? Are you interested in working with media, including radio, television and online?

I’ve done a fair bit of media over the last few years, and I was one of the Radio National ABC Science Top 5 Scientists for 2019, which involved intensive media training.

Here’s a Q and A, followed by some of my top tips for working with the media.

Continue reading Researchers facing the media

Can makeup be more than a beauty treatment?

CQUniversity’s simulation experts have been using the art of moulage to train its nurses and paramedic students to deal with a variety of injuries.

Moulage is the art of using makeup and special effects products to create realistic-looking injuries on simulated patients.

It’s a technique that is helping hundreds of CQUni students learn how to respond to graphic injuries that would otherwise be very difficult to learn about without a real on-the-job experience.

CQUni’s simulated patients are often other students or community volunteers who give us their time to be ‘made up’ and play a character in a set scenario.

Here’s just some of great work produced by our moulage artists.

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