TTANZ was born out of an interest in research and clinical innovation and remains strongly linked to The University of Auckland. Most of our team are currently or have been previously involved in teaching or research there in speech-language therapy.
Our Academic Advisors, Dr Clare McCann and Dr Linda Hand are involved in supervising undergraduate and postgraduate research on topics relating to speech, language and communication needs and legal contexts. They both also teach on these topics across a range of disciplines within The University of Auckland. They have delivered a wide range of conference presentations, many with Sally Kedge. For example, in 2016, Sally and Clare delivered several presentations in Western Australia including Speech Pathology Australia Conference, Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre staff group, The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia and Legal Aid Commission, and the Criminal Bar Association.
Linda, Sally and Clare are currently members of a working party chaired by Judge Fitzgerald that is developing processes for addressing communication needs within the NZ Youth Justice sector. In 2015 Linda, Clare and Sally Kedge with another NZ colleague, Megan Pickering contributed a chapter to a book about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and legal contexts:
Hand, L., Pickering, M., Kedge, S., & McCann, C. (2015). Oral language and communication factors to consider when supporting people with FASD involved with the legal system. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders in Adults: Ethical and Legal Perspectives: An Overview on FASD for Professionals (pp. 139-147). 10.1007/978-3-319-20866-4_9
Two important pieces of current research involving TTANZ team members are:
- Sarah Lount’s Doctoral studies that explore the language, hearing and auditory processing skills of young people who reside in youth justice residences. Sarah has recently achieved an important milestone: publication of a paper about her NZ original research in a highly respected international journal:
Lount, S. A., Purdy, S. C., & Hand, L. (2017). Hearing, Auditory Processing, and Language Skills of Male Youth Offenders and Remandees in Youth Justice Residences in New Zealand. J Speech Lang Hear Res, 60 (1), 121-135. 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0131
A key finding in Sarah’s research was that 64% of the young people who had offended that she assessed had a language impairment compared with 10% of the youth who were controls in her study. This finding echoes similar international results on this topic.
- Mark Stephenson’s Masters research focusses on developing an oral language screening tool for the use of youth justice professionals within NZ. Mark won the Vodafone World of Difference Fellowship in 2016 which has allowed him to focus on this important research which will result in practical resources for the YJ context. Mark recently wrote this great piece for the Vodafone World of Difference website describing why such a tool is needed.
We have a number of completed and on-going Masters projects, exploring issues like:
- how typically developing adolescents understand vocabulary used in the legal system
- the perspectives on oral language taken by teachers who teach in youth justice residences
There is a lot more to be done! Please contact us to discuss research opportunities relating to the language and communication and young people involved in the legal system.
In 2016 TTANZ SLT, Mary-Elizabeth Hagenson recently undertook an evaluation of the pilot SLT role at the Central Regional Health School in partnership with Dr Clare McCann. The CRHS school delivers education within youth justice, care and protection, mental health and behaviour settings. Adding an SLT to their multidisciplinary staff team has proved to be a useful innovation that has focussed on helping staff to recognise and respond to the speech, language and communication needs of their students.
List of references and literature