Marila Kozdra - Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology (Honours) - 2017

Marila Kozdra - Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology (Honours) - 2017

Were you the first in your immediate family to attend university? If so, what did that mean to both you and your family?
My parents had completed TAFE level qualifications, however in my nuclear unit I was the first female to become a university level health professional. I was also the first in the family within the health field with a university qualification. Definitely the first speech pathologist!

What high school did you attend? Would you be interested in going back to your school to talk to current students about your Charles Sturt experience?
Kardinia International College, Absolutely would be happy to speak about the experience and impact on my career journey.

What attracted you to your current role?
Beginning my career as a speech pathologist has allowed me to build my knowledge and experience of sector practically with how projects and policies effect clients in their life journey. Stemming from a sound understanding of issues impacting Australians with disabilities I have been proactive in my ability to adapt to changing environment. Through participant based projects I have showed a strong commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and associated values from both a clinical and cooperate aspect. I have been able to be at the forefront in leading strategy and advanced analytics consultancy, using primary qualitative and quantitative methods and robust analytics to provide recommendations based on program delivery and funding obligations from NDIS, state and other commonwealth sources. In taking a risk management approach, I have been required to have developed highly conceptual, analytical and problem-solving skills, including strong research skills and the capacity to evaluate, synthesise and critically analyses complex issues to able to be the key candidate organisations choose to continue to innovate.

Can you give us an insight into what your role involves on a daily basis?
My job/s make me wear many different hats – so it is a bit of a jumble. You will find me doing the following:

Facilitating the Corporate Services Division’s input into strategic business activities, including, but not limited to:

  • Strategic, corporate, divisional and unit planning;
  • Provide executive support to the Management team role through policy and strategy development, project management and high level reporting including the preparation of relevant papers and submissions and the delivery of enquiries and investigations as may be required;
  • Undertake research and analysis together with the preparation of high level reports and correspondence to support the delivery of Divisional and organisational objectives;
  • Ensure the effective communication and application of policies, procedure and administrative requirements within the Corporate Services Division;

In addition I also:

  • Providing education to staff, carers and families regarding the NDIS and how to utilize their plan and confirming enrolments within groups/support accommodation/respite/ holiday programs.
  • Provide professional development/presentations for the community and families
  • Providing speech therapy consultancy to families, staff and generic services. As a speech pathologist within the service I have personally developed the service to include and provide therapy to the participants with the most complex disabilities within the Barwon region to Western Melbourne.
  • Conducting speech therapy assessments/intake all ages with additional needs. (Including assistive technology, contribute to autism assessment and mealtime reviews)
  • Contributing to the development of the team through mentoring clinicians within both the youth plus and ECIS teams to attend both training pathways and aiding therapeutic decisions/ recommendations.
  • Contributing to the organisations ability to manage complex family situations to provide successful outcomes.
  • Direct liaison with management in quality assurance and improvement of programs, including the creation and development phase. Programs created include: the contribution to the role of out Easy English (Easy to Read) documentation role out across the organisation and sector
  • Providing onsite training to support workers, care staff and therapy assistants to develop and implement programs.
  • Attendance at conferences, symposiums and workshops to build working relationships to increase consultancy ability for the organisation.
  • Co-designing the creation of innovative programs for therapy based approaches

Why are you passionate about what you do?
Simply because it can create change and impact an individual’s life for the better.

Where did your drive and commitment come from? I would first have to acknowledge my mother, she has put up with a lot of hard ships and has always come out on top. She always put her children first and wanted us to have all the opportunities in life. She made me have the motivation to succeed and keep pushing as there was always something better you could do if you tried. Her motivational slogans created my drive.

I would also have to ever admit though never possibly in public just because he would laugh, but my brother. He is always at the top of his game no matter what he put his mind too. So I always wanted to do better just to be like him. Kept driving me to be the best in my field.

What advice would you give to young graduates just starting out? It is never a smooth journey, things take time. I know you have the knowledge but the experience is the years that no one in university talks about. Don’t rush!

At school I was a real nerd who tried sports and music but was never any good.
My childhood was full of character building opportunities.
As a child, I was most curious about the way people interacted with one another.
I chose Charles Sturt because reputation and practical learning (placement opportunities)
My best experience at Charles Sturt was the lecturers and placement opportunities
My worst experience at Charles Sturt trying to perfect the art of stuttering rating and never really succeeding at it!
At university I was inspired to be something more than just a speech pathologist, listening to the policy impacts I was inspired to make a change.
Today I’m motivated to make an impact, no matter how big or small it may be. For every therapy session I did I wanted to make sure that the person who came it would have the best experience because you never know what is going on in someone’s life outside of your time together.
In my profession it is important to…
LISTEN, LOOK and LISTEN again! I know we are ‘teaching people to talk’ but 9/10 you are their accidental councillor when you empower them to talk/communicate.
I never dreamed I would be in an executive position (high level) at such a young age.
The biggest influence in my life is my mum, brother and two uncles. They work in tandem to keep inspiring me.
I’m most proud of my program designing and innovation, to
My greatest achievement is running successful disability inclusion programs, being nominated for numerous awards (e.g. allied health Australia’s COVID-19 Champion 2020-21), being a part of the Speech Pathology Australia NDIS advisory group, winning a scholarships to Women in Leadership Australia Leading Edge Course at 25.
In the future I’d like to take a break? But that isn’t the type of person I am.
The topic I Tweet about most is… well unfortunately I don’t tweet, you’ll find me on Instagram sharing all things race running and disability inclusive, with the occasional here’s what I’m eating and filtered selfie.
The best piece of advice I ever received… Be different, you are always going to feel like there is someone bigger, better and smarter. But your individuality is why people want to work with you!
The single-most important issue in the world is health.
The thing I wish I had done but never got around to learning how to make gnocchi properly. But in my career… mastering key word sign/AUSLAN
If I could do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing, failings made me are who I am today.
One last thing... your mental health is something worth investing in.