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Letter to Members May 2022

Dear colleagues

I am really pleased to be able to provide an update to members on things happening in your association. Please take the time to read this communication as it contains some important information and notice of upcoming events and activities.

EXPANSION OF LDA CONSULTANT MEMBERSHIP TO INCLUDE SPEECH PATHOLOGISTS

We have some important news for LDA members about an expansion of our Consultant Membership category. Consultant Membership of LDA has, until now, been open only to qualified specialist teachers with postgraduate university qualifications with a significant LD component. From now on, suitably qualified and experienced speech pathologists will also be able to apply to be LDA Consultant Members.

LDA would like to encourage teachers and speech pathologists (or those with dual qualifications) to consider applying to join as LDA Consultant Members, or to upgrade their current membership status to Consultant.

Application to become an LDA Consultant member involves presenting appropriate documentation to a panel formed by the LDA Consultants committee – a panel which from now on may include both speech pathologists and specialist teachers. The criteria for acceptance are as follows: 

  • Documentation of appropriate qualifications. 
    • For teachers, this involves postgraduate university qualification with a significant LD component. 
    • For speech pathologists, this involves the entry level qualification (Bachelors or Masters), membership of Speech Pathology Australia with Certified Practising Speech Pathologist status, and documentation that they have extended their scope of practice in the area of literacy and LD by attending suitable formal professional learning. Applicants who are speech pathologists must also demonstrate familiarity with the relevant SPA Clinical Guidelines and Practice Statements, and must show preparedness to work within SPA guidelines in the area of literacy.
  • Documented  experience in the field of supporting students with learning difficulties.
  • Demonstration of  commitment to the use of explicit instruction and evidence-based teaching strategies. 
  • Presentation of a case study summarising recent intervention with a student with learning difficulties. 

LDA Consultant status is reviewed annually, and evidence of ongoing professional learning is required for continuing Consultant membership.

The LDA Consultant group forms a valuable database of professionals who are suitably qualified and competent to work with students with learning difficulties. LDA Consultant Members are entitled to to use the pronominal ‘LDA Consultant Member’ in their dealings with schools and the public, and LDA provides an Online Referral Service that Consultant Members may choose to use to support their practices. 

The LDA Consultant group provides ongoing professional support to its own members by way of regular local (or online) network meetings. These meetings include collegial discussions, informal mentoring, resource sharing and professional learning. There are clear advantages to including both specialist teachers and speech pathologists in these meetings, as the networks provide valuable opportunities for members of both professions to work together in a mutually supportive and enriching interdisciplinary environment.

While LDA Consultant Membership may add to the financial burden of teachers’ and speech pathologists’ annual professional dues, the extra costs to members can be offset by reduced fees for professional learning events sponsored by LDA (this fee reduction also extends to events sponsored by SPELD).

If you are a member of LDA who is a suitably qualified speech pathologist or specialist teacher and you satisfy the criteria outlined above, we would love to welcome you into the LDA Consultant Member group. 

The expansion of the LDA Consultant membership category to include speech pathologists represents an important strategic development for the association. We believe that including speech pathologists into the Consultant group will add important additional services to those looking to LDA for support for students with learning challenges, and we hope that this is just the beginning of a process of including other allied health professionals in the Consultant group as well. 

So, if you are an LD Specialist teacher or a Speech-language Pathologist interested in joining our Consultant team, you can find information about the criteria on our website  and select Consultant Membership from the menu. Because we are still smoothing out some problems with the website application process, if you want to submit an application or want more information please contact Elaine McLeish at consultant.convenor@ldaustralia.org or call 0406 388 325. We would love to hear from you! If you know of colleagues who may not yet be members of LDA but who would be interested in this development, please pass on this information to them.  

Elaine McLeish (LDA Vice-President & Consultant Committee Convenor)

LDA and AJLD AWARD PROGRAM IS STILL OPEN

Our annual  awards program is currently underway. If you know of a colleague, tertiary student or early career researcher who you would like to see recognised, please consider nominating them (or suggest that they apply in case of tertiary and early career researchers).  All information about the awards can be found on our website at  https://www.ldaustralia.org/award-nominations/  Nominations close on May 31st. 

LDA BECOMING A REGISTERED AUSTRALIAN BODY (RAB) WITH ASIC 

During the last Council year (2020-21), there was discussion about the way LDA was constituted (as an association incorporated in Victoria) and the implications of that for our activities. Concerns had been expressed as to whether LDA was operating legally given it undertook some of its activities in other states. 

The current Council has engaged consulting firm Conscious Governance to provide expert advice in this area. We are pleased to let you know that LDA’s current structure is sound, that the constitution complies with all statutory requirements, and that we are operating legally given the extent of the activities we undertake. We have been advised that there is no need to change the way the association is constituted in order to pursue our mission. 

One option that is available to LDA, however, is to become a Registered Australian Body (RAB) with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Associations take this step in order to extend more of their activities and services to states and territories beyond the state in which they are incorporated. By becoming a RAB there are no limits to what an association incorporated in one state can do in other states and territories in Australia. 

While the Council sees no need to change the structure of LDA at the current time, we have determined that it is prudent to become a RAB, not least because we see ourselves as a national organisation. This is not a large step and not one that requires a Special General Meeting of members to approve. It does, however, ensure that if LDA expands its services and operations more broadly, then the association will comply with the regulatory framework for associations. 

Conscious Governance has also reviewed the current LDA Constitution and has advised that while it is compliant with all requirements for an incorporated association in Victoria, a review would ensure that the Constitution will serve the organisation into the future. First steps are to register as a RAB. We will then commence member consultation regarding any proposed changes for updating the Constitution. Changes to the Constitution are likely to be proposed for implementation over a 3 year period. 

For those who would further information on these governance issues I refer you to the enclosed document from Justice Connect which was published in July 2021, particularly pages 10-11. 

If you have any questions about this please be in touch with me at president@ldaustralia.org

MANIFESTO – EVERY CHILD A READER 

At the recent LDA online conference in March, national treasure and author Jackie French called for LDA and friends to develop a manifesto to highlight the need for all students to receive instruction that enables them to become skilled readers. We have taken up the challenge. We are calling this initiative Every Child a Reader as a provisional title and we have received a number of fabulous submissions and ideas from our community. I would like to thank all those who have outlined their views on how we can achieve this important goal. Jackie has kindly offered to edit this document into a format that we can take to politicians, policy makers and the vice-chancellors of our universities where teachers are prepared for their important work in the classroom. As the manifesto takes shape we will be sharing it with members of LDA. 

LDA AGM Saturday 22nd OCTOBER – VISIT BY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR EMERITA LINNEA EHRI

By now you may have heard that Professor Linnea Ehri will be coming to Australia in October as LDA’s guest to receive the 2022 Eminent Researcher Award of the Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties (AJLD), LDA’s academic journal. We are so thrilled that Professor Ehri has agreed to travel to Australia to spend time with us and share her expertise. We are also pleased to announce that there will be a couple of additional events in Melbourne and in Sydney following the AGM where Professor Ehri will also be a key speaker.  Please mark the AGM date in your calendar and if possible, make plans to come to Melbourne for this important event in the life of LDA. 

Thank you for your support of LDA and our shared vision of a better, more inclusive Australia. Your Council is always keen to hear your ideas for ways in which we can support our membership. If you would like to reach out to the LDA Council, please contact Bec Rangas at enquiries@ldaustralia.org

With best wishes 

Robyn Wheldall, PhD 

President