Friday, 22 September 2023

Presentation to the Western NSW Health Research Network

Congratulations to Cathie Matthews who presented her Masters' research to the Western NSW Health Research Network (WNRN) Symposium in Dubbo Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 September 2023 (

The title of her presentation was "Advancing rural children’s communication, partnering with parents, early educators and child and family health nurses". 

Cathie Matthews is undertaking her Masters research at CSU supervised by Julian Grant, Sharynne McLeod, Libbey Murray. She is also undertaking a Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) Grant supervised by Kerith Duncanson (HETI) and  Georgina Luscombe from The University of Sydney.

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

Congratulations Associate Professor Azizur Rahman – Highly Commended, Acceleration Fellowship


Congratulations ECIR member Associate Professor Azizur Rahman who was awarded the Highly Commended Fellowship Prize, 2023-24 Acceleration Fellowships in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity research, Charles Sturt University. With his project on ‘Developing health modelling tools with big data from Southeast Asia’, Professor Rahman stands at the intersection of data science and real-world application

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

ECIR report 2022-2023

 Here is a summary of the outputs of the ECIR team in mid 2022-mid 2023 

  • Grants: $5.7million awarded 
  • Journal articles: 55 accepted + 16 submitted 
  • Conference papers: 59 presented/accepted for presentation (+18 conference workshops/seminars etc) + 4 submitted 
  • Book chapters: 29 published/in press + 1 submitted 
  • Books: 3 published/in press + 1 under contract 
  • Conference proceedings: 1 published
  • High level of community engagement: 3 events hosted/training delivered, 22 media coverages, 4 media contributions, social media profile, 5 public lectures/presentations, 19 community consultations. 
  • Members well recognised for their achievements: 3 individual and 1 group awards, leadership/membership of professional associations and editorial boards, invited working party and advisory participants. 
  • 2 PhD completions and 2 PhD submissions by ECIR members, HDR support to 17 students.

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Members of the Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Sturt Scheme in New Zealand

Members of the Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research (ECIR) Sturt Scheme attended the 32nd World Congress of the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders (IALP) in Auckland New Zealand. There were 1000 delegates from 48 countries in attendance.  Members who were present included: • Prof Sharynne McLeod • Dr Suzanne Hopf • A/Prof Sarah Verdon • Kate Margetson • Holly McAlister • Josephine Bampoe • Dr Laura Hoffman • Dr Helen L. Blake • A/Prof Ben Pham (from Vietnam).

Each of the ECIR members presented papers, workshops, chaired sessions and networked. ECIR and CSU presentations included: 

  1. Children’s speech development across the world: Sharynne McLeod & Helen Blake (co-ordinators) 
  2. Fiji English children’s speech development Holly McAlister, Australia: Suzanne Hopf, Paul A. Geraghty, Fiji; Sharynne McLeod, Australia 
  3. Vietnamese + English children’s speech development: Kate Margetson, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah Verdon, Van H. Tran, Australia; Ben Phạm, Vietnam 
  4. Speech-language pathology and its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Sharynne McLeod & Julie Marshall 
  5. Listening to children’s voices in the Pacific: Holly McAlister, Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod 
  6. Cross-linguistic transfer in multilingual children’s speech: Kate Margetson, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah Verdon 
  7. Dental extractions and children’s speech: Caitlin Hurley, Robert, Sharynne McLeod 
  8. Intelligibility and speech accuracy of Vietnamese-speaking children suspected to speech sound disorders: Ben Phạm et al. 
  9. Developing normative data for The Vietnamese Language Assessment (VLA) for four-year-old children in Thua Thien Hue - Thi Thu Hang Dang, Sarah Verdon, Ben Pham
  10. SLTs’ current practices and challenges for treating children with communication disorders across three Southeast Asian countries - Smith, G., Verdon, S., Chu, S. Y., Razak, R., Chow, D., Ruzli, Y.A., Pham, B., Triantoro, H. & Garraffa, M.
  11. Evaluation of Vietnam’s first speech and language therapy degrees: perspectives of multiple stakeholders - Lindy McAllister, Sally Hewat, Adriana Penman, Sarah Verdon, Van Tran, Thuy Thi Thanh Nguyen, Dung Pham, Marie Atherton, Gwendalyn Webb, Joanne Walters
  12. Validity and reliability of the Vietnamese version of the UTBAS-6 scale on adults who stutter - Hanh Tran Thi Bich, Nguyen Do, Laura Hoffman, Rachael Unicomb, Sally Hewat
  13. A qualitative systematic review of speech-language pathologists’ practice with people from humanitarian migrant backgrounds - Sarah Verdon & Olivia Clark
  14. Social justice in action in speech-language pathology: Exploring sustainable and culturally responsive international development through the first university degrees in Vietnam - Sarah Verdon, Sally Hewat, Lindy McAllister, Adriana Penman, Van Tran, Marie Atherton, Gwendalynn Webb, Joanne Walters
Additionally, Sharynne McLeod was the Chair of the Child Speech Committee and on the IALP Executive Board and Sarah Verdon is a member of the Child Speech Committee.

Tuesday, 22 August 2023

32nd World Congress of the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders (IALP)

Congratulations ECIR members presenting at the 32nd World Congress of the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders (IALP) in Auckland, New Zealand:

There are 950 delegates from 48 countries in attendance. Sharynne McLeod is the Chair of the Child Speech Committee and on the Executive Board.

ECIR member presentations:

Children’s speech development across the world: Sharynne McLeod & Helen Blake (co-ordinators) 

Speech-language pathology and its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Sharynne McLeod & Julie Marshall

Listening to children’s voices in the Pacific: Holly McAlister, Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod

Cross-linguistic transfer in multilingual children’s speech: Kate Margetson, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah Verdon 

Dental extractions and children’s speech: Caitlin Hurley, Robert, Sharynne McLeod

Holly McAlister's presentation

Sharynne McLeod

Thursday, 17 August 2023

Early Childhood Voices 2022 Conference (ECV2022)

Over five days from 5 – 9 December 2022, the Charles Sturt University Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research (ECIR) Sturt Scheme held a global online conference titled Early Childhood Voices. It was their second bi-annual conference to share research about innovative methods, theories and partnerships with children, parents/carers and professionals that supported social justice and Sustainable Development Goals during early childhood or within the early childhood sector. ECV2022 was an opportunity for international researchers to present research in a virtual online space.

The six keynote presentations and 99 oral presentations from 25 countries were aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 10, and SDG 17. The conference program and proceedings were searchable using the SDGs.

The conference attracted 1,956 registrations from 72 countries. During the week of the conference there were 6,431 page views from 1,358 users. In addition, there were over 3,517 YouTube views of the presentations and 243 hours of viewing.

A popular initiative was the Children Draw Talking Global Online Gallery (, which enabled children from across the globe to share images of themselves talking to someone, emphasising Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These galleries collectively were viewed more than any other presentation at ECV2022. Five yarning circles were held for synchronous conversations between conference participants on pre-determined topics.

The conference was free for presenters and attendees; drawing on Charles Sturt University’s motto “for the public good”. Conference presentations can still be viewed online 

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Communication is a human right – but not everyone can communicate effectively

Sharynne McLeod has shared thoughts after her CSU Provocations Lecture: "Children should be seen AND heard: the importance of communication so children can thrive" Public Lecture on 20th April 2023.  Read them here

Provocations blog coming soon

Charles Sturt University will be launching a Provocations blog at Professor Ganna Pogrebna Provocations Public Lecture at Bathurst on 16 August. Professor Pogrebna will discuss behavioural data science as a game changer for understanding the interface between human and digital systems in the new digital economy. Tickets are available from

Provocations will be a series of blogs written by prominent thinkers that seek to address the grand challenges confronting regional Australia and the world. How can we mitigate climate change and build climate proof, safe and sustainable communities?  Can First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing guide sustainable development? How can we reinforce Australia’s supply chains and sovereign manufacturing capability in a post-Covid world? Is it possible to achieve productive and circular agriculture? How can we reduce income inequality between urban and regional Australia and build more inclusive communities? Does liberal democracy need to be redefined in a post-Covid world? How can we build a knowledgeable, inclusive and resilient citizenry prepared for the challenges of the future? Does Australia’s relationship with China require a radical rethink? Is there a role for faith in contemporary democratic thought? 

Provocations will challenge orthodoxy through new thinking but will also revive policy ideas and political thought from the past for one more encore.

Further details to come.

Friday, 28 July 2023

Congratulations Marie on your PhD submission

Congratulations to Marie Ireland who recently submitted her PhD from Iceland. She undertook her PhD by Prior Publication. Marie's thesis title was "Evaluation and Eligibility of Students with Communication Disorders in Public Schools in the United States" and consisted of 13 chapters (10 publications + 3 exegesis chapters). 

Here is the abstract: 

Communication is an essential human right that, beginning early in a child’s life, provides the foundation for interaction with others. Communication is the underpinning for success in school and untreated communication disorders may impact children’s futures. In the United States, students with disabilities in public schools receive free speech and language evaluations and, if needed, services from speech-language pathologists (SLPs). In U.S. public schools this process is regulated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and services are only available to students who meet specific eligibility criteria. An educational disability must result in an educational impact and is decided by a team that includes SLPs. Private speech-language pathology services are also available using a fee for service model decided by individual service providers. As parents and some educators may desire free services for students under IDEA, there is pressure to identify students as disabled who do not meet eligibility criteria. Misidentification due to cultural or linguistic differences also occurs. There are potential negative consequences to inappropriate disability identification such as: segregation from typically developing peers, violating the child’s rights with decreased expectations or limited educational opportunities, increased caseloads for SLPs resulting in recruitment and retention issues, and violation of state and federal regulations. While service options exist outside of IDEA, inconsistency in evaluation practices and eligibility decision-making has been documented and creates tensions for families, educators, and SLPs.

This thesis presents work for a PhD by Prior Publication to explore and describe evaluation and eligibility of students with communication disorders in U.S. public schools using quantitative and qualitative research and publications (presented as chapters) over the span of a career drawn together through an exegesis. Part 1 includes 7 chapters and provides an introduction and literature review that examines the SLPs’ practice patterns and documents the unique requirements for public-school practice in the United States. Chapter 2 reviews public policy and Chapter 3 discusses educational requirements and provides the context of public policy in the United States. A review of evaluation and eligibility requirements under IDEA and research on evaluation practices focusing on students from diverse backgrounds, test accuracy, and state differences are included in Chapter 4. Clarification regarding regulations, guidance and information to support understanding of guidelines and severity rating tools used by states as they implement IDEA is presented in Chapter 5. Options for services to support students with language differences, not disorders, outside of IDEA are detailed in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 integrates research and policy in the United States and addresses the implementation of research on children with speech sound disorders in the context of IDEA.

Part 2 includes six chapters and addresses the complex activity system involving team decision-making regarding evaluation and eligibility for speech-language pathology services in U.S. schools. Chapter 8 presents the theoretical framework that was used as the unifying approach to this thesis and for the study reported in Chapter 9. The chosen theoretical framework, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) by Engström (1987, 2015), was used to explain the complex activity system of speech-language pathology services in U.S. schools. Chapter 9 investigates the team decision-making activity system for determining student eligibility for speech or language services in U.S. schools and documents nine major tensions related to the team decision-making activity system. Chapters 10, 11, and 12 document SLPs’ use of evidence-based practices and language sample analysis techniques. Variations in evaluation and eligibility decision-making often are attributed to the SLP, rather than the team decision-making system. The impact of differences in state and local regulations and policy, input from other members of the team, and variations in requirements for use of specific tools for evaluation were identified. Knowledge of the individual elements within the team decision-making activity system and the interactions and tensions that arise between elements may assist in understanding practice patterns of SLPs in U.S. schools. There are common tensions experienced by school SLPs regarding evaluation and eligibility of students. Using the CHAT framework enables acknowledgment of the interplay of elements within the broader activity system (beyond the SLP) and promotes the importance of teamwork and advocacy by SLPs at the local, state and national level. Inconsistency and tensions in school team decision-making are well documented in the research literature. Once identified, information on inconsistency and tensions can be used to develop of strategies to improve practice. The findings identify needs and solutions to strengthen school teams’ and SLPs’ knowledge of the regulations, research, and advocacy to address challenges in the school setting. Use of evidence-based practices for evaluation and compliance with IDEA regulations for data collection and decision making will reduce mis- and overidentification and protect students’ civil rights. Improving consistency by school decision-making teams will enable all students to receive quality evaluations and appropriate decision-making regardless of where they live or attend school. Consistency in evaluation and eligibility processes is essential to advance SLPs’ professional practice and build or maintain trust between families, students, and public-school professionals across the United States.

Marie Ireland celebrating

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

Early Learning Matters Week 24-28 July

This week is Early Learning Matters Week. This year’s theme is ‘Learning through connection’. Children have been learning through their connection to community and place on this land for over 60,000 years. Early Learning Matters Week this year is celebrating this connection and the ongoing connection that is fostered in early learning settings across the country.

Organised by Early Childhood Australia, Early Learning Matters Week brings together early childhood educators, parents, carers and community leaders around Australia to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of early learning and the difference the profession makes.

Supporting educators’ emotional work with infants and their families around transitions at the start the day

The following paper has just been published.

Dolby, R., Friezer, B., Hughes, E., Page, J. & Meade, V. (2023) Supporting educators’ emotional work with infants and their families around transitions at the start the day, Early Years, 1 - 14, DOI: 10.1080/09575146.2023.2235911

Congratulations Belinda. Here is the abstract:

This article describes the professional development program, Baby Playspace Learning (BPL), and evaluates its capacity to build close relationships between educators, parents, their infants and infant peers during the morning transitions in ECEC settings. Using a pre-post design, video recordings of 20 (10 pre and 10 post) morning transitions were collected across a 12-month period and analysed for developing closeness, by measuring the frequency of triangular interactions, educators’ use of relational language and physical availability (sitting down, being still and holding infants in a curled position to relax). All measures of closeness increased significantly post-test, indicating that BPL created more opportunities for building closeness between all parties. BPL can enhance educator professionalism by showing educators how to engage in practices that help them to realise close relationships in a group setting. This gives parents, infants and infant peers the experience of belonging to a secure base culture where closeness is valued.

18th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health

 There were two fabulous presentations by ECIR members at the 18th World Congress for the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Dublin, Ireland.

  • Belinda Friezer; Linda J. Harrison; Sheena Elwick: Researcher and educator interpretations of microanalytic observations of infant sociality (Brief Oral Presentation), presented on the 18th July, 2023, SOURCE-WORK-ID: fe63c5dd-20d3-4b05-803c-6775bf92c8f7.
  • Belinda Friezer; Linda J. Harrison; Sheena Elwick: Infant-peer triads in the caregiving context of childcare, presented on the 16th July 2023, SOURCE-WORK-ID: fe63c5dd-20d3-4b05-803c-6775bf92c8f7.


Friday, 21 July 2023

Statistical learning or phonological universals? Ambient language statistics guide consonant acquisition in four languages

 The following paper has just been published.

Contreras Kallens, P., Elmlinger, S., Wang, K., Goldstein, M., Crowe, K., McLeod, S., & Christiansen, M. (2023). Statistical learning or phonological universals? Ambient language statistics guide consonant acquisition in four languages. In I. M. Goldwater, F. K. Anggoro, B. K. Hayes, & D. C. Ong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3290-3296).

Congratulations Sharynne and Kate. Here is the abstract:

What predicts individual differences in children’s acquisition of consonant production across languages? Considerations of children’s development of early speech production have traditionally emphasized inherent physiological constraints of the vocal apparatus that speakers generally have in common (i.e., articulatory complexity). In contrast, we propose a statistical learning account of phonological development, in which phonological regularities of the ambient language guide children’s learning of those regularities in production. Across four languages (English, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean), we utilized recent meta-analytic dataset of age of consonant acquisition spanning 28 studies. High-density measures of children's ambient language environment from over 8,000 transcripts of speech directed to over 1,000 children were used to assess how well the frequency of consonants in childdirected speech predict the age of consonant acquisition. Our results suggest that both frequency and articulatory complexity are related to age of acquisition, with similar results found for English, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. Consonants heard frequently by children tended to be incorporated into their production repertoires earlier and consonants heard less frequently are incorporated into production repertoires later in development. We discuss future directions that incorporate a statistical learning pathway towards learning to produce the sound patterns of the ambient language.