Previous Volunteers

Volunteers are crucial to helping TFA achieve our mission and goals. Our volunteers come from all over Australia and the globe. Their passion, enthusiasm and commitment to improving the quality of life of people with communication and swallowing disorders in Vietnam is truly inspiring.

Previous speech pathologists who have visited Vietnam to support TFA’s work there have assisted with teaching students, mentoring speech therapy graduates, coordinating projects and courses, and liaising with our Vietnamese partner organisations.

Some volunteers have travelled to Vietnam for just a short stint, while others have committed two or more years and coordinated courses. Our long-term volunteers have been supported by Australian Volunteers International .

Our volunteers are also active here in Australia working to raise awareness and funding about our work. All TFA directors are also volunteers.

Find out more about the opportunities available.



During January and February Dominique Weston dedicated her time working with our Speech Therapy graduates throughout Vietnam on her National Tour of clinical mentoring.

“I cannot speak more highly of Trinh Foundation Australia and their work in Vietnam. The five weeks I spent in Vietnam, working in Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hanoi was the most rewarding experience of my life. I was supported by the Foundation throughout my travels, and was constantly in contact with a supervisor who did everything in her power to make my trip go smoothly.

I felt so privileged to be able to pass on my clinical skills to the graduates. They were all so grateful and hospitable, and I was treated with a kindness that I will always remember and value. My trip was full of adventure, taking motorbikes to and from work and having time to explore all the cultural delights the cities had to offer in my spare time. I was able to learn some of the language and taste authentic foods from local restaurants. These experiences were completely unique, and by being immersed in the people and the culture I believe I was able to discover the real Vietnam. I felt like I had so much to offer, and I left each city feeling like my time had made a difference to the lives of the therapists, the teachers and the families of the clients.

I would strongly encourage every therapist to consider this opportunity. Your knowledge and skills are invaluable and will be essential to build the profession of Speech Pathology in Vietnam.”

Clinical Mentor, Dominique Weston, 2015


Mentor Seth Koster reflect on his 2 weeks mentoring session in Da Nang and Hue. He provided some comments about his impressions from working with the graduates.

While there were some holes in their knowledge base, all of the clinicians showed excellent skills in performing the actual Tx.  There did not appear to be a solid use of documentation of data applied towards understanding progress towards objectives, so we instituted a SOAP note system and graphing of data so the clinicians and client’s families could better understand the progress being made and how it relates to overall goal accomplishment. 

All of the clinicians I worked with were well prepared, engaged with the process, and showed their understanding of the skills we worked on by instituting them within Tx sessions. 

As a mentor in Vietnam I gained new friends, the joy of engaging with excellent professionals, and the opportunity to be of use to a community which truly deserves anything I can offer. 

I would recommend this experience to other Speech Pathologists. You will have the opportunity to be appreciated for anything you can offer and interact with people from an interesting, open, and friendly culture.”

Mentor, Seth Koster, 2015


In Country Volunteer Jessica De Bolfo reports on her progress and experience in Da Nang at the Da Nang Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of my experience so far has been supporting the clinicians to introduce feeding and swallowing services in their outpatient clinic. Previously patients were unable to access this service at the hospital, so it has been quite amazing seeing the change the clinicians are now making to the lives of so many families. Along the way it has been fascinating learning more about the cultural differences in feeding practices between Vietnam and Australia and seeing these differences in action. 

Another big achievement for the clinicians at the hospital is the establishment of some inpatient support for infants and children with feeding and swallowing disorders in the paediatric intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care unit and nursery. The doctors and nurses working in these units are very engaged and welcoming of the support because they are working very hard to provide the best care possible for their patients.

It has been a privilege working with this team and I am very excited by their ability and motivation to continue improving their clinical skills to support infants and children at the hospital. I think it is going to be difficult to leave!" 

Clinical Educator Jessica De Bolfo, 2019


Due to COVID-19, Dr Andy Smidt was not able to travel in person to Vietnam to deliver her course about lifelong disability and AAC. She therefore worked to create an online experience for both MSALT and BSALT students which she delivered in August 2020. 

"I worked with Lindy McAllister on a plan to transfer my teaching content to an online format.  In some ways, this was easy for me because I am good at tech and have taught for the past 7 or 8 years into an entirely online master’s degree.  I decided to divide the teaching into three components. The first component involved providing self-directed learning (SDL) material for the students to work through in the 2 weeks prior to the first live zoom session.  The second component was online zoom meetings with me to go through the content and start to apply the theory to practice.  The third component was a case-based approach so that we worked together on one case per day.   

A challenge was to build a relationship with the students via Zoom – and they commented on this too.  Personal engagement between students and teachers is often viewed as a key part of learning. I did not have the option to stand next to a student while ordering a drink or to chat with them at the start of a day within the Zoom learning experience.  One of the things I did to bridge that gap was to upload lots of photos of Australia and ask them to upload pictures of Vietnam.  We then used those pictures on the last day of learning as our Zoom backgrounds so that I could “go visit” all the beautiful places in Vietnam and the students e-travelled to Sydney and to see some cute Kangaroos and Koalas.  This was a small way of building closeness which I thought was really important. 

Overall, I think I learned as much from the students as they learned from me.  I learned about my own values and expectations. I had a number of culturally based attitudes that I had not thought about". 

Lecturer, Dr Andy Smidt, 2020


In Country Volunteer Cat Andrew was the Clinical Educator for a group of masters graduates, including from Da Nang, completing their paediatric placement at An Binh Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, which had been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

"I absolutely loved Vietnam and the people I met. Coming from London, I was not phased by the busy-ness of HCMC, although the traffic is a little alarming, and it took me a while to learn to cross the road! Vietnamese people could not have been more welcoming or easier to get on with. Also the food is incredible! 

Based on my experience of working in the clinic, and my observations, Vietnamese parents are really lovely, warm and responsive with their children, and were able to take on and implement strategies really well, which bodes well for the future of paediatric therapy." 

Clinical Educator, Cat Andrew, 2022


In Country Volunteer Megan Nevell supervised the BSALT students on their final paediatric placement in outpatients at the Orthopedic and Physical Rehabilitation Hospital of Da Nang.

“Vietnam is a beautiful country with really delicious, flavourful and fresh food. Vietnam has a rich history with many cultural experiences. The people are so friendly and helpful. They try really hard to share their culture, communicate and interact with visitors, even if they don’t speak the same language. 

I was an international clinical educator supervising fourth year Vietnamese Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy students on their final paediatric placement. I worked with 5 students plus a Masters of Speech and Language Therapy graduate who was working on her supervision skills. We saw 5 clients per day in an outpatient hospital clinic. I worked with an interpreter who would interpret our discussions from English to Vietnamese and Vietnamese to English. The interpreter would also interpret simultaneously during assessment and intervention sessions. The interpreter would also translate written information to English and Vietnamese such as session plans, progress notes, handouts and feedback. 

The students that I supervised are now working in the hospitals for no pay for the first 9 months while they build up their experience and then are working in private practice in the evenings and on weekends to earn money.” 

Clinical Educator, Megan Nevell, 2022


In Country Volunteer Jessamy Routley recently worked with SALT staff and 16 students at Hai Duong University to teach the Clinical Placement 1 subject and mentored for DUMPT BSALT Graduates and MSALT Graduates in the hospital and university settings in Da Nang.

I had visited Vietnam before so knew that I would enjoy the food and culture, which I definitely did again! The main thing that stood out to me this visit was how interested and open to learning about speech pathology everyone was – from the patients to the other hospital staff, everyone was so receptive. 

My favourite part of volunteering abroad was seeing changes to the ways the students and new graduate speech pathologists were applying their clinical reasoning skills. I loved seeing them apply a strategy that we had discussed during a session with a patient, or ask a question differently to show that they had taken new learnings on board. One highlight from my time in Hai Duong was seeing the students come together to successfully run an aphasia group, which the patients really enjoyed and benefitted from. In Danang I felt that our education sessions with medical and allied health staff across multiple different hospitals made a big difference to their understanding of speech pathology as a profession. I enjoyed involving the early career speech pathologists in these presentations by working with them to develop relevant case studies, and seeing their confidence grow when presenting to an audience.

Clinical Educator, Jessamy Routley, 2023



If you’re interested in experiencing the rich and vibrant culture of Vietnam while providing assistance to speech therapy graduates, students, and other professionals then please fill out the EOI Volunteer Form.