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The purpose of this news page is to communicate to our wide network of students, alumni, staff, clinical and research partners the interesting news, accomplishments, and change that has occurred in the Occupation Therapy Discipline. We hope that this news page will serve as a vehicle that keeps us all connected. We encourage you to forward it to anybody who may be interested and to stay engaged with the discipline.

Associate Professor Lynette Mackenzie awarded Excellence in Teaching Award

Lynette Mackenzie


Associate Professor Lynette Mackenzie was awarded the Faculty of Health Sciences 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award for Research Higher Degree Supervision.

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The award is a wonderful credit to Lynette for her work in supervising local, international, practitioner and researcher students in occupational therapy and interdisciplinary topics. Lynette is currently involved in several research projects related to older people in the community.

The RAS-DS website launched

RAS-DS website


More exciting news about the self-report measure of mental health recovery developed by occupational therapist Dr Nicola Hancock and the RAS-DS team. The RAS-DS website recently launched, providing resources for use by people managing and interested in their own mental health recovery.

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On the website you can download free RAS-DS resources including an increasing number of language translations. 2017, colleagues in Indonesia, Thailand and Iceland added to the translations already available on-line and there are French and German translations in the pipeline.

Use of the RAS-DS is mushrooming around the globe. It is now being used in 15 countries spanning five continents. Interestingly, in the last few months there has been a groundswell of Veteran programs using the RAS-DS in America, Canada and Australia to support consumer oriented recovery.

In addition to RAS-DS, the on-line self-tracker “app” is available on the website along with information resources. One resource is a workbook to support consumers action aspects of their recovery that they choose to work on. The RAS-DS team is investigating the self-report measure. Occupational therapists Dr Nicola Hancock, Dr Justin Scanlan and Dr Anne Honey, all on staff at USYD, have recently published research adding to existing evidence for RAS-DS “external sensitivity to change” making it now, in our opinion, the most robustly evidenced measure of mental health recovery available. For more information check out www.ras-ds.net.au

Justin Scanlan appointed to the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

OT Board Logo


Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate course co-director, Dr Justin Scanlan was appointed to the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA) as the New South Wales practitioner member.

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In partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), OTBA is responsible for the regulation of occupational therapists in Australia to ensure safe delivery of occupational therapy services and to protect the public from harm. On the 20th February 2018, the OTBA released the Australian Occupational Therapy Competency Standards (AOTCS) 2018 which set the expectations for occupational therapy practice in Australia.

Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Forum 2017: An Outstanding Success

Mental Health Forum


Dr Nicola Hancock and Dr Justin Scanlan were part of the scientific and organising committee for the Mental Health Forum which was held on World Occupational Therapy Day, 27th October 2017.

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The day was a resounding success with 274 delegates (up from 180 delegates at the 2015 forum) and presentations from a broad range of practice areas reflecting the diversity of occupational therapy in mental health. Keynote speakers Tania Skippen, Nickolas Yu and Joel Pilgrim inspired the audience with new ways of thinking and reflecting on how occupational therapy can support mental health and wellbeing across the population.

The University of Sydney helping shape the 2019 Occupational Therapy Australia National Conference

OT National Conference


Planning is well underway for the Occupational Therapy Australia National Conference which will be held in Sydney from the 10th to 12th July 2019. Staff and alumni from the discipline are actively involved in the planning for the conference.

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Dr Justin Scanlan is Scientific Chair and Dr Meryl Lovarini is a member of the scientific committee. Dr Chontel Gibson and recent honours graduate, Eliza Bambridge are on the Conference Management Committee.

Head of OT Discipline heads-up China OT Congress with Keynote

Anne Cusick


In December 2017, Professor Anne Cusick presented a Keynote speech and Workshop at the Third China Occupational Therapy China Rehabilitation Education Congress (COTREC). This milestone event brings occupational therapy educators and students from all five WFOT accredited programs in China together with colleagues from the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong to share expertise and create productive professional networks.

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The 2017 theme was “Coloring Life, Embracing Evidence”. The event was jointly organised by Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) Occupational Therapy and the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Occupational Therapy.

The event was held in the grounds of the beautiful Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Hong Kong and China are highly productive in occupational therapy research – the challenge facing them is the same challenge facing Australian occupational therapists – how best to translate that research evidence into daily practice.

After highlighting concepts including knowledge Translation (KT) and Knowledge Implementation (KI), Professor Cusick explored policy, professional development and clinical procedure process that can be used to kick-start and maintain KT and KI in day-to-day practice.

While at the congress, Professor Cusick met up with USYD graduates in research, practice and management roles – some had been taught by Anne in the 1990’s and it was fun to share memories of the “Cumbo Days”.

The development of occupational therapy in China over the past few years has been an extraordinary success. Close collaboration with HKPU and support of WFOT has enabled highly engaged, forward thinking approaches to education, practice and research to emerge with much more to come in the future.

Conceptualisation of disability by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research

Subahari Ravindran


Subahari Ravindran (Master of Occupational Therapy research elective student) completed an outstanding piece of research on the conceptualisation of disability by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and New South Wales government and non-government disability service agencies. Subi is pictured here (centre) with her research supervisors, Dr Jennie Brentnall (left) and Dr John Gilroy (right).

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Her critical comparison of the conceptualisations of disability represented in Indigenous and policy sources identified four central themes: power and self-determination, eligibility, otherness, and identity and labels. These sources speak to how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not self-identify as disabled, and how they are categorised as culturally different within policies.

In the context of national disability reforms currently underway, this work provides some background against which disability services may view their policies and collaborate with Indigenous communities to recognise and address the diverse Indigenous conceptualisations of disability. Subi has submitted her research for publication and will also present her research at the Occupational Therapy Australia National conference in Perth in July.

Research funding success

Prof Lindy Clemson


Professor Lindy Clemson, along with Dr Kate Laver (Flinders University), has received funding from the NHMRC’s Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre to run a three year implementation research project that aims to integrate the Care of People with Dementia in their Environments (COPE) program within existing health and aged care systems in Australia. COPE is an evidence-based non-pharmacological program and is proven effective in reducing dependency and increasing engagement of the person with dementia, and in improving carer wellbeing in a randomised trial in the US.

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COPE uses occupational therapy skills with complimentary nursing skills, centring the needs of both the carer and the person with dementia. The COPE research project will examine facilitators and barriers at therapist, organisation and policy levels, explore funding models and build in features of sustainability. The final output for the project will be an Implementation Strategies Document to influence policy and address how COPE can be rolled out wide-scale.

Pacific Disability Forum Conference in Apia Samoa

Prof Lindy Clemson


Dr Michelle Villeneuve and research colleague, Dr Michael Millington attended the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) Conference in Apia Samoa (February 20 – 24 2017). They engaged with participants in a workshop on Empowerment and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR). The workshop marked the initial stage of a partnership project involving Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) working together with CBR educators in the Pacific to profile the everyday empowerment stories of people with disability in the Pacific.

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The stories will begin to appear on our website: collaborating4inclusion.org. Later, these stories will be used to co-design teaching materials and interactive learning activities to expand the CBR curriculum teaching and learning beyond the current focus on health and rehabilitation to include important aspects of sustainable community development including livelihood, educational inclusion, and social participation.

Photo is of Michelle Villeneuve and Mike Millington together with Ipul Powaseu, PNG Assembly of Disabled Persons and Samantha French, Advocacy Projects Manager, PWDA at the PDF Conference in Apia Samoa.

Occupational Therapy Indigenous Summer Program 2017

Prof Lindy Clemson


As part of the Wingara Mura - Bunga Barrabugu Summer Camp program eight academics and five OT students provided hands on and interactive sessions to year 11 and 12 students on Thursday the 19th January to introduce Occupational Therapy as potential career path.

The morning session included wheelchair experiences which were a favourite, with the students challenging each other to navigate through obstacles and gaining knowledge about the variety of wheelchairs for different purposes. One handed dressing and sandwich making provided some insight into the difficulties participating in everyday tasks when an injury or illness occurs.

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The fine motor retraining activities and “what is this assistive device?” stations also provided some fun and surprises. The afternoon sessions included two simulations scenarios, where five of our current occupational therapy students demonstrated how they would interact with a client in a professional encounter. The school students also had a go at the DriveSafe/DriveAware assessment and the handwriting speed assessment to understand more about the components involved in doing these activities well. Many of the students were unfamiliar with the range of areas that occupational therapy addresses, and were surprised by and interested in the activities provided.

The OT staff and current students were very enthusiastic about the sessions, providing a great welcome to the summer camp students who may hopefully consider an occupational therapy career armed with a bit more information about the profession. We are delighted to have been part of the program and have seen increases in Indigenous student enrolments in recent years as a direct result, a very pleasing development for the profession and the faculty. Thanks to all the staff and students involved, your efforts are greatly appreciated. Kim Bulkeley NOTE: Sent to Margaret McGrath for feedback on 31-1-2017 Need to chase up Simone re photos of the day to make into a montage.

Cultural Awareness - Occupational Therapy students in Broken Hill

Prof Lindy Clemson


Allied Health in Outback Schools is a Faculty of Health Sciences student run clinic program. Occupational Therapy (and Speech and Language Pathology) students are based within primary schools within the township of Broken Hill.

They also provide an outreach service to the preschools & primary schools in the outlying townships of Menindee and Wilcannia. Students provide services under the supervision of discipline specific and inter-professional allied health academics.

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The student run clinic offers an early identification, early intervention model through one-on-one, small group and class based therapy. Occupational Therapy students focus on intervention in the areas of motor development, visual motor integration and visual perceptual skills.

Throughout the year services are provided to 12 schools within the area. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children within the schools varies, with the percentage of enrolments ranging from 4 % to 98 and 100% between the schools.

The Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health (BHUDRH) supports a high number of students from a range of universities. To optimize engagement within the local communities students participate in a local cultural education program which compliments and builds upon existing knowledge. The ENRICH (Enhanced Rural Interprofessional Cultural Health) program , in collaboration with local schools, also provides additional support for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focusing on working with primary school aged children, parents and the broader community.

These programs are well established and well respected in the local community. Feedback from each cohort of Occupational Therapy students has emphasised the value of these sessions and the benefit of being able to enter the community with heightened awareness and greater knowledge.