Occupational Therapy Week, running from 23-29 October provides an opportunity to recognise the tireless efforts of Australia’s 28,000 occupational therapists who transform people’s lives daily.
“Occupational therapists support people to live their best lives, through participation in activities that are important to them. They play a significant role in uniting a community through collaboration, inclusion, and engagement,” said Occupational Therapy Australia CEO Samantha Hunter.
“They are a vital link in connecting people with their own communities and yet their work often goes unrecognised, or is not fully understood,” she added.
This year’s “Unity Through Community” theme celebrates occupational therapists’ collaboration, inclusion and engagement that unite communities.
Hunter explained that occupational therapists enable participation in everyday tasks and roles despite illness, injury or disability impacts. This encompasses self-care, work, volunteering, hobbies, interests and social events.
Diverse occupational therapy roles include providing injury/disability adaptation strategies, facilitating return to work/leisure post-injury, supporting mental health recovery through activity, speeding hospital discharges and enabling children’s skill development.
Occupational therapy is the third fastest growing allied healthcare field but Australia faces a shortage. Ambassador Charles Brice highlighted the immense impact of occupational therapists enabling his confidence and independence with spinal cord injury.
Fellow ambassador Georgie Gott revealed her disability led to her choosing occupational therapy as a career.
“My own occupational therapists have enabled me to live a full and independent life, and I have been able to draw from my own experiences as an individual with a disability to inform how I practice as a therapist,” she said. In 2021, Georgie completed the 48km Three Capes Walk on crutches.
Events nationwide will bring occupational therapists together to connect and celebrate their community-changing work.