Written By

Nicolette Ward


College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

29 March 2022

Related Study Areas

A fire in the belly for speech pathology

Growing up in Ayr with family members who needed to access speech pathology services, JCU Alumni Jenna Mottin knew that she wanted to make a difference.

“I had a few younger cousins needing speech pathology and I just couldn't get my head around why my auntie and uncle and the kids would have to take a whole day off to travel to another town to get the help they needed.

“So, from a young age, I became passionate about having speech pathology services in rural and remote towns like Ayr. It was what I had my head and my heart set on, and I followed that.”

After graduating from JCU in 2010 with a Bachelor of Speech Pathology, Jenna chose Mount Isa as her first destination, taking up a position as a school-based speech pathologist.

“I was the speech pathologist for 13 schools in the region, and I would also travel out to the Aboriginal communities around there, too. In Mount Isa, I discovered that I was one of only two speech pathologists, which just didn’t make sense to me as there was so much demand for our services. That experience just put more fuel in my fire to bring more speech pathology services to where they’re needed most.”

Jenna’s next role saw her in Charters Towers with a position shared between the Department of Health and Department of Education. During this time, she worked on a project that involved trialling telehealth speech pathology services for families who were unable to access speech pathology services due to remote living.

A Talk H.Q. team meeting.
Jenna with her business partner, Julie Sexton.
Left: A Talk HQ meeting. Right: Talk HQ Co-Founders, Julie Sexton and Jenna Mottin. (Supplied by Jenna Mottin.)

Setting up clinics across North Queensland

A return to Townsville a few years later saw Jenna join forces with another speech pathologist from Ayr, Julie Sexton. Together they combined their passion to provide speech pathology services to smaller communities across North Queensland and embarked upon their own speech pathology business, called TalkHQ.

“Julie and I share the same values, passion and vision of helping children succeed regardless of where they might be located. We started our business in Townsville, and have since opened up clinics in Ayr, Ingham and Mount Isa. We also regularly do outreach to smaller places such as Palm Island, Hughenden, Middlemount, Dysart and Bowen, whether that be face-to-face or telehealth online therapies.

“Bringing our services to communities like Palm Island, which we travel to every week, is a real highlight as they are just so thankful that we are bringing a regular service there. The gratitude that we receive from families living rurally just makes me feel like I'm truly living out my purpose and my passion.”

Jenna says she was also attracted to the idea of having her own business so that she could have the freedom to innovate and do things differently when needed.

“Some innovative programs we are currently doing include our ‘Walkie Talkies’ project, which is an online program for parents of children aged zero to three years old, to help their children learn to talk. It’s an early intervention strategy and also helps support families on our waiting list, which unfortunately exists due to a national shortage of speech pathologists.”

"The gratitude that we receive from families living rurally just makes me feel like I'm truly living out my purpose and my passion."

JCU Alumni and TalkHQ Co-Founder, Jenna Mottin

Jenna Mottin, Co-Founder of Talk H.Q.
Jenna with a puppet she uses with kids.
Left: JCU Alumni and Talk HQ Co-Founder, Jenna Mottin. Right: Jenna with a puppet used in children's speech pathology sessions. (Supplied by Jenna Mottin.)

The JCU difference

“My training at JCU has just been so pivotal to what I’m doing now. Not just the focus on rural and remote health, but also the focus on building trust and developing rapport with our clients and their families,” says Jenna.

“Bringing a child to a therapy session for one session a week can only do so much. It is much more effective when we support parents by equipping them with strategies to provide a rich language and literacy environment at home for their children.

“Even doing simple things like cooking with your kids and reading out recipes, can make a big difference to communication outcomes for children. So, it's not only sitting down and doing ten minutes of speech homework that makes a change, but it’s what you can incorporate into your everyday life that is going to set your child up for success in the long run.”

A diverse and in-demand career

The demand for speech pathologists throughout Australia is on the increase.  And for people living in regional, rural and remote communities, it can be even harder to access a speech pathologist, which is something that Jenna is keenly aware of.

“Getting therapists in our rural locations continues to be a challenge. We currently have 20 speech pathologists on our team, with about two thirds of them being JCU graduates, and we’d like some more!

“Speech pathologists who join our team will definitely be making a difference to these rural and remote communities. You will get the opportunity to form some amazing long-term relationships and bonds with children and their families. And working with the children themselves is just the most rewarding thing.”

Discover JCU Speech Pathology

Gain the skills and experience to make a difference to children, adolescents and families in metropolitan, rural and remote communities.