PhD Completion Seminar

Speech-language  pathology  intervention   for young offenders

Nathaniel  R.  Swain

PhD  Researcher  

The  University of  Melbourne

Supervisors:  A/Prof  Patricia  Eadie &  Prof  Pamela Snow

Advisory Committee: Prof Lorraine Graham (Chair) & A/Prof Miranda Rose 


When:  Tuesday  25th  October  2016,  3.00pm  –  4.00pm

Where:  Seminar  Room  413  &  414,  Level  4,  100  Leicester  St  Carlton

My research has implications for young offenders and youth justice professionals  

My research has implications for young offenders and youth justice professionals  



Young offenders  are  a  vulnerable  and marginalised group  with  critical speech,  language,  and  communication  needs.  Fifty  to  sixty  percent  of male young offenders have  a  clinically  significant  language disorder.  Despite  this,  little  research  has focussed  on  the  effectiveness  and  feasibility  of  speech-language  pathology  (SLP) intervention  in  youth  justice  settings,  and  young  offenders  are  typically  under-serviced  by SLPs.


I conduc ted a yearlong study in a youth justice facility  in Victoria,  Australia. Along  with  an  assessment  study  (n  =  27),  I  conducted  a  phase  one  language  intervention trial  using  a  series of  six  empirical  single  case  studies.  This  evaluated  the  extent  to  which intensive,  one-to-one  language  intervention  improved  the  language  skills  of  male  young offenders.  I  also  investigated  the  feasibility  of  delivering  SLP  services  using  quantitative and qualitative  data,  including  service  efficiency data,  qualitative  field notes,  and  a  staff  focus group.


Individualised  intervention  programmes  were  delivered  for  each  of  the  six single  case  studies.  There  were  medium-large  improvements  in  the  targeted communication  skills,  many  of  which  were  statistically  significant.  The  feasibility  data revealed  evidence  of  the  usefulness  of  SLP  services,  in  spite  of  considerable  barriers including  difficulty  collaborating  between  agencies,  and  a  high  frequency  of  disruptions  and cancellations. 


This  research  provides  the  most  rigorous  evidence  to  date  of  the effectiveness  of  one-to-one  speech  and  language  therapy  for  young  offenders.  This  research indicates  that,  despite  significant  barriers,  there  are  immense  opportunities  for  effective and  responsive  SLP  services  with  young  offenders,  as  part  of  wider  efforts  to  change  the risk  trajectories  of these  young people.