The DLD Project Foundation aims to be the peak Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) body in Australia whose principal activity is to support individuals with DLD and their families in order to reduce the impact of this hidden disability.

We are committed to improving the lives of adults and children with DLD, their families, and carers; and to improve community awareness, acceptance and understanding of DLD.  We will work closely with our members and the extended DLD community to advocate for equity and fairness. 


A world where people with DLD are recognised, understood and empowered to live their best life.


To help adults and children in Australia with DLD, their families and carers to participate fully, independently and equally in all aspects of their everyday lives by funding research, support and awareness initiatives.

Our Purpose

Developmental Language Disorder is a permanent, lifelong disability that affects 1 in 14 people (Norbury et al, 2016). A recent Australian prevalence study found 6.4% of children with DLD at 10 years of age (Calder et al., 2022). DLD is a hidden or invisible disability with less than 20% of Australians having heard of it (Kim et al., 2022), which adds to its stigma in the community. DLD is 50 times more prevalent than hearing impairment and five times more prevalent than Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (McGregor, 2020). Those who receive a diagnosis often feel isolated and alone due to a lack of awareness and support.

The total cost to Australia of language difficulties is estimated to be between $1.362 billion per year and $3.308 billion per year (based on a prevalence range 7 to 17 per cent). The annual cost per child with language difficulties is estimated to be $4,353. Productivity losses account for the largest proportion of this cost, with 42% attributable to productivity losses of the child’s mother, 30% attributable to productivity losses of the child and 28% attributable to costs borne by the health and welfare system. The costs associated with DLD have important implications for intervention of language disorders (Cronin, 2017).

Every $1 invested in speech and language therapy for children with communication needs generates $6.43 through increased lifetime earnings (Source: RCSLT).

Our Board

About The DLD Project Shaun Ziegenfusz

Shaun Ziegenfusz | Chairperson

Shaun Ziegenfusz is the Co-CEO of The DLD Project, speech pathologist, researcher and host of The Talking DLD Podcast with more than 10 years’ experience working with people with DLD and their families. He currently works in private practice and collaboratively with schools to provide assessment and intervention pathways. Shaun is also a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate at Griffith University where he researches the needs and necessary supports for school-aged students with DLD from the perspective of key stakeholders, as well as being a volunteer member of the Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder (RADLD) International Committee. Shaun is passionate about blending clinical experience and research to support students, families, professionals and schools.

Professor Sheena Reilly

Professor Sheena Reilly AM | Director & Chair of the Research Sub Committee

Prof. Sheena Reilly is one of the leading minds on DLD in Australia. She is an Honorary Fellow with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Melbourne. She holds a B.App.Sc (Speech Pathology) from Curtin University and a PhD from the University of London, UK. Professor Reilly’s research contributions span more than 30 years. She is among the most highly-cited in her discipline; with over 200 publications including articles in a broad range of High Impact journals. She has received over $70M in competitive research grants and has led and participated in several NHMRC Centres for Research Excellence, one of which focused exclusively on DLD. Professor Reilly has produced a substantial body of original research and has contributed extensively towards understanding speech, language and literacy development in children.

Nat Turner

Natalie Turner | Director, Public Officer & Company Secretary

Nat is the Co-CEO of The DLD Project and has worked internationally with many small to large not-for-profit organisations in marketing, fundraising, advocacy and volunteer mobilisation. She is also a qualified journalist having worked as a radio announcer in Australia and more recently, as a freelance writer/videographer. She is inspired by the families who make up the DLD community, their stories and the potential of what can be achieved when we pool our talents and resources.

The relationship between The DLD Project (Social Enterprise) and The DLD Project Foundation

The DLD Project (social enterprise) was founded to elevate awareness and understanding of DLD in Australia. Over time, it has become increasingly apparent that to further the organisations impact, a Not-for-Profit arm needed to be added to attract philanthropic gifts. The two organisations will work closely under the one umbrella to meet the needs of Australians with DLD. The DLD Project Pty Ltd will donate a portion of its profits to support the work of The DLD Project Foundation.

THE DLD PROJECT - final version (1)
  • Training
  • Information
  • Resources
The DLD Project Foundation
  • Research
  • Support
  • Awareness
  • Fundraising