Australian speech pathologist Sue Woodward first visited Vietnam in 2007 to work as part of a cleft team with her husband Peter and Aziz Sahu-Khan (both orthodontists).
The team supported successful surgical and orthodontic cleft repair but knew that patients also needed speech therapy to learn to speak clearly following surgery.
On a visit to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Aziz introduced Sue to Professor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Dung, then the Hospital’s Director.
Professor Dung recognised the value speech therapy could bring to Vietnamese people with communication and swallowing disorders, she dreamed of starting speech therapy training in Vietnam.
Caught in a monsoonal downpour, causing flash flooding and a huge traffic jam, Professor Dung and Sue shared their vision for speech therapy services for the people of Vietnam.
Sue was also familiar with Professor Lindy McAllister’s extensive work at Phu My Orphanage in HCMC, organizing placements for speech therapy and other allied health students from Charles Sturt University, to provide therapy for children in need and training for the orphanage staff.
On 27 March 2008 Professor Dung, Lindy, Aziz, Sue and Peter committed to work towards a short course in speech therapy for doctors, nurses and physiotherapists from the ENT Hospital.
With this first ambitious goal Trinh Foundation Australia was born with Sue, Peter, Aziz and Lindy the founding Directors and Professor Dung playing a pivotal role as champion for speech therapy in Vietnam.
February, July and October – TFA successfully provides Postgraduate Short Courses in Aspects of Speech Therapy at the ENT Hospital in HCMC. Total of 17 graduate doctors and nurses from across Vietnam are trained in speech therapy for patients of all ages with speech, voice and swallowing impairments.
October – TFA signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Pham Ngoc Thach University in HCMC to commence a 2 year Post-Graduate Training program in speech therapy.
November – Partnership formed with the Global Development Group.
Ongoing – TFA begins to facilitate affiliations between universities and hospitals in Vietnam with those in Australia.
January – Granted a Permit of Operation from People’s Aid Co-ordinating Committee (PACCOM), thus becoming a government approved NGO in Vietnam. Entered into a preliminary partnership with Australian Volunteers International (AVI), to help recruit and fund the first of two speech therapy lecturer positions for the Post Graduate Training Program in Speech Therapy.
February – Approval granted by HCMC Union of Friendship Organisation (HUFO) which oversees NGO’s at the Municipal level.
March – Australian trained speech pathologist was appointed as Course Coordinator to oversee the implementation of the first ever full time course in speech therapy in Vietnam at University of Medicine Pham Ngoc Thach (UPNT) in HCMC.
July – First ever forum on speech therapy in Vietnam entitled “Speech Therapy – New Service in Health Care”. This forum was used as a platform to provide information about the impending course to health and education institutions across Vietnam.
September – First ever post graduate qualification in Speech Therapy commenced. TFA funded scholarships for two students from the Office of Genetic Counselling and Disabled Children in Hue in order for them to attend the Speech Therapy Training program in HCMC. Giving an opportunity for people in their region of over 20 million, to receive speech therapy services for the first time.
TFA sources lecturers and clinical educators (in excess of 80) to enable a high quality transfer of knowledge about communication and swallowing disorders to implement a “Train the Trainer” model.
August – Second intake of 15 Vietnamese students for training. TFA provides administration staff and resources, enabling the university courses to take place.
September – First course completed supplying the first 18 Vietnamese trained speech therapists in Vietnam.
January – TFA awarded the new Certificate of Registration from the Vietnamese Government, which provides a licence to operate as an NGO in Vietnam.
Ongoing – TFA continues to assist a number of new graduates in establishing new speech therapy departments in hospitals and institutions across Vietnam.
September – Second cohort of 15 students complete their training.
October – TFA Directors awarded medals from the People’s Committee in HCMC for their work in developing speech therapy services in Vietnam.
April – Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) sponsors grant for the first TFA training course for Vietnamese interpreters and translators.
TFA assists UPNT in their planning to implement the first 10 month paediatric speech therapy course.
TFA continues to provide mentoring to former graduates of the 2010-12 and 2012-14 programs.
September – 32 students enrol in the inaugural paediatric speech therapy training course. As well as sourcing guest lecturers from Australia, TFA provided mentoring to the UPNT teaching staff.
July – UPNT commences their first independently run 10 paediatric course, with TFA volunteers mentoring as required.
September 2016-17 cohort of 32 students graduate as paediatric speech therapists.
TFA board member Dr Sarah Verdon commences collaboration with Dr Ben Pham to develop the first standardised paediatric language assessment for Vietnam.
May – Beyond Borders Skype mentoring pilot project launches supported by SPA grant.
Five year Memorandum of Understanding (2017-2022) signed with MCNV for SALT in Vietnam Project.
TFA helps to provide standardised terminology in translation from English to Vietnamese for head and neck anatomy as well for speech pathology terms through the creation of a “Glossary of Terms“.
TFA also enables a number of information books about communication disorders to be published and distributed not only in Vietnam, but also in Australia, as a service to the Australian Vietnamese community.