Closing the Gap: Supporting Occupational therapists to partner effectively with First Australians

Alison Nelson, Marion Gray, Heather Jensen, Yvonne Thomas, Kelli McIntosh, Lin Oke, Tamar Paluch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Background/aim: Occupational therapists need to be able to work competently with all clients, including First Australians. Currently, there are no national standards for occupational therapists working with First Australian clients. This article presents current issues in practice and education with First Australians and makes recommendations for the future. Methods: A survey of 41 occupational therapists working with, or interested in First Australian health issues was conducted at a workshop held at the Australian National Occupational Therapy Conference in 2008. Results of the workshop group discussions were also collated. Results: Several themes emerged from both survey data and discussions. A substantial proportion of participants rated their confidence and competence to work with First Australians as low to moderate. Higher levels of perceived confidence and competence were associated with current experience in the field. Discussions centred around six major themes: building relationships, service provision and design, education and training of occupational therapists, increasing First Australian representation within occupational therapy, professional issues and political issues. These themes were further collapsed into areas of action, which could be taken by individuals, managers, researchers and professional bodies to improve practice with First Australians. Conclusions: Occupational therapists will benefit from coordinated efforts, on individual and systemic levels, to work more effectively, and in partnership with, First Australians. Such developments should include guidelines for practice, education and research; professional development and networking opportunities; and improved collaboration, especially with First Australian partners, on a national level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-24
    Number of pages8
    JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


    • Culture
    • Indigenous
    • Professional competence
    • Professional education


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