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CSU students explore occupational therapy for Indigenous Australians


Friday, 19 Oct 2018

In their final activity at Charles Sturt University (CSU), fourth year students will explore the possibilities of their new careers as occupational therapists in a two day conference starting Wednesday 24 October at CSU in Albury-Wodonga.

The CSU students will present papers on contemporary practice issues relevant to the provision of occupational therapy services to regional, rural and remote communities with a specific focus on Indigenous Australian people.

In her final year of the occupational therapy course, student Ms Gemma Wall hailed the conference initiative as an excellent way to showcase how far the students had progressed after four years of university study.

“During my course I learned much about the importance of culturally competent care and the impact this can have on improving health outcomes when working with culturally diverse clients such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Wall said.

In her conference presentation, Ms Wall is considering how to successfully implement a culturally sensitive self-management program for stroke rehabilitation in an Indigenous Australian community.

Ms Wall will draw from the Best Evidence for Stroke Therapy study being conducted at CSU in partnership with Albury Wodonga Health and Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

Fellow student Ms Rachel Ralph said the conference was particularly relevant as new national standards for cultural competency in occupational therapy become effective in January 2019.

“The conference is important as it allows us to educate each other on how we can better our practice with Indigenous people,” Ms Ralph said.

Discipline Lead of the occupational therapy program in the CSU School of Community Health, Dr Tracey Parnell, said the conference allowed students to demonstrate what they had learned from their studies, and the intellectual rigour they can offer to the health of regional, rural and Indigenous Australians.

“The conference is the culmination of the four year course for these students. It provides an opportunity for them to show the breadth and depth of their knowledge in various areas of contemporary practice.”

“This year we also challenged the students to examine their chosen topic in relation to Indigenous Australians.”

Dr Parnell will welcome participants and students to the conference from 8.30 am on Wednesday 24 October at Room 101, Building 667 at CSU in Albury-Wodonga, Broomfield Court, Thurgoona.

The 26 student presentations include:

  • * Addressing Indigenous health inequality and the role of occupational health in ‘closing the gap’;
  • * Ageing in place in Indigenous Australian communities;
  • * The mental health implication of leaving the land;
  • * Challenges in accessing stroke rehabilitation in rural and remote areas; and
  • * Chronic pain and its impact on mental health.

The conference will be closed after 2pm on Thursday 25 October by the Head of the School of Community Health, Associate Professor Michael Curtin. The event coincides with national Occupational Therapy Week.

Media contact: Wes Ward, 0417 125 795

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Dr Tracey Parnell, conference coordinator Ms Rhiannon Memery and CSU occupational therapy students Ms Rachel Ralph and Ms Gemma Wall, all based at CSU in Albury-Wodonga.

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