“Closing the gap through role-emerging occupational therapy positions”

Tahnee Elliot1, Kimberley Hunter2

1University of South Australia, Department of Rural Health, 111 Nicolson Avenue Whyalla Norrie, 5608, tahnee.elliot@unisa.edu.au
2University of South Australia, Department of Rural Health, 111 Nicolson Avenue Whyalla Norrie, 5608, kimberley.hunter@unisa.edu.au

Introduction

Kimberley and Tahnee are two Aboriginal new graduate occupational therapists from the University of South Australia, who are working as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Allied Health Officers at the University Department of Rural Health in Whyalla.

Discussion

Occupational therapists work with individuals and groups throughout the lifespan promoting health and wellbeing through the engagement in meaningful occupations. Occupational therapy can offer a unique insight into community-centred practice as we are philosophically, theoretically and practically well situated to work collaboratively with communities. The key values underpinning community-centred approaches parallel client-centred practice, which is intrinsic to occupational therapy philosophy.

If occupational therapists were to work more broadly with communities, there would be greater potential for a larger population impact. Occupational therapists practicing in Australia are perfectly positioned to work together with Aboriginal communities to address the multitude of disadvantages faced by many.  By recognising Aboriginal People’s resilience and protective cultural factors occupational therapists can help to support meaningful engagement in life roles at both an individual and community level. Aboriginal holistic views of health and wellbeing, principles of primary health care and occupational therapy share a common comprehensive view of health. A combination of all three within community-centred practice offer an effective approach to addressing broader determinants of health.

Biography

Kimberley Hunter graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Applied Science Occupational Therapy in 2015 and has since gained employment at the Department of Rural Health in Whyalla, South Australia as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Allied Health Officer. Kimberley is passionate about using her skills as an Occupational Therapist to help bring about change to social determinants impacting on the health of Aboriginal peoples.