Dr Hewat, also a Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science
at the University of Newcastle, was awarded the Medal from the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, a prestigious honour not usually received by foreigners, awarded by the Mayor of the city.
She also received a certificate and gift from the University of Pham Ngoc Tach (UPNT), the institution where Dr Hewat has worked, in collaboration with the Trinh Foundation Australia, to develop a Speech Pathology program.
"I'm really honoured that the work we have been doing with our colleagues in Vietnam has been so well received, " Dr Hewat said.
"The benefits of our international collaboration have been felt both in Vietnam and here in Newcastle. The Vietnamese students and community now have access and exposure to experts in the Speech Pathology field from Australia and have the opportunity to learn within a discipline that previously did not exist in Vietnam."
"Importantly, the community now has the opportunity to access Speech Pathology services in hospitals throughout Ho Chi Minh City that were not previously available."
"Every person has the right to communicate. Through the development of speech therapy as a profession in Vietnam this may eventually be possible," Dr Hewat said.
"The bonus for our students is that they get experiential learning through an international clinical placement and foster their understanding and ability to work with people from culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
"They also get exposure to and greater understanding of health and social determinants of health in developing countries, and experience many clinical opportunities they wouldn't necessarily come across during a placement in Australia," Dr Hewat said.
The second cohort of students in the speech therapy program at UPNT will graduate in October 2014 and Dr Hewat is now working closely with partners at UPNT and the Trinh Foundation Australia to support the establishment of a Bachelor degree program in Vietnam.
"As a result of this most recent visit previous graduates are exploring opportunities for post graduate RHD [Research Higher Degree] study at UON. This is very exciting for the development of the discipline in Vietnam, and for UoN as this will enhance networks throughout SE Asia, that will only continue to grow."
A further six speech pathology students and a UON employed clinical educator will go to Vietnam in October this year for an international clinical placement supported by Asia Bound grant funding.
"I'm also excited by the prospect of ongoing international opportunities for UON Speech Pathology students with the proposed establishment of a South East Asian Stream in the Bachelor (Honours) program – under the Flagship Program, pending final approval by the University's Program and Courses Approval Committee ," Dr Hewat said.