Parents want more health support
LOWER Richmond parents who need support for their children's speech difficulties say they have been abandoned by the health system, with no speech therapist assigned to the area.
Evans Head parent Kylie Roche is one such parent. Her five-year-old boy Zach has global developmental delays.
"This means he didn't sit up until he was two or walk until he was two-and-a-half," Ms Roche said.
Zach also has speech problems and in preparation for starting school next year Ms Roche would like him to be seeing a speech therapist regularly.
"He's been on a waiting list since he was three," she said.
"We can't afford a private therapist and when he has been assessed the therapist has left.
"There is no continuity."
It's a similar story for other parents whose children are in need of speech therapy because of various levels of developmental delays.
It had been an issue for quite some time, too, resident John Lauritzen said.
Mr Lauritzen's son Brad, who has speech difficulties and is now 19, only got one term of speech therapy in Year 5 and then was simply left on a waiting list.
"I ended up giving him speech therapy at home from books the therapist would give me," he said.
Mothers Rebecca Yourell and Rachel Trustum have also been "modelling" or giving speech therapy to their children at home.
"When Abbie (my daughter) and I go to Lismore in the car, she knows that's when we do our speech therapy," Ms Yourell said.
The strain on families is telling, with other siblings resenting the time spent with parents becoming therapists for their children.
"Mum has to spend more time with one child and the others get jealous," Ms Roche said.
"We are not qualified and it can be overwhelming."
North Coast Area Health spokeswoman Susan Walker said the group was recruiting a speech therapist for Evans Head-Coraki.
"The approvals have been processed and that position is being recruited, too," she said.
"I don't know, however, how long the time-frame will be."
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