Happy OT Week from IAHA Board Director and Occupational Therapist Tirritpa Ritchie

On the 27th October, around the country and the world, Occupational Therapists (OTs) engaged in celebrations and activities commemorating the profession.

Australian OTs are holding weeklong festivities to increase the awareness of occupational therapy and the contributions of the profession. This year’s theme is ‘Reimagine Doing’ which celebrates the expertise of occupational therapy in reimagining participation in occupations and activities that provide value and meaning to everyday life. Like many other professions, OT finds itself during the COVID-19 pandemic asking important questions like how can I help? what is my role?

Many individuals are reimagining what ‘doing’ looks like for them and coming to terms with grief and loss, newly imposed abilities, new roles, and identities. The question for OTs is what are the new roles and new identities that I, as an Occupational Therapist, a health professional, and a member of community, could and should be doing?  

I am a Kaurna man, an Occupational Therapist, and am based in Adelaide, South Australia. My cultural upbringing and the principles and values I have been socialised with has both merged and clashed with those of my profession. Where they have clashed are in western vs Indigenous values of individualism and collectivism, and where they have merged has been in the broad lens and approaches to health and wellbeing which OT provides. Bringing these two principals and values together has been an ongoing journey but, when they do come together, I think that is what I bring to the table. It is not a big step for me to ‘reimagine doing’, as my ways of doing has always been outside dominant paradigms and these include, community mindedness, belonging, relationality, connectedness, knowing, being, doing, and the multi-layered way of life concept of Country.

OT as a profession does not have to look far to ‘Reimagine Doing’. It is within our profession already, it exists in Indigenous, Black and People of Colour OTs. The voices of those who have been marginalised can and does provide a broader lens for the profession, which can help shape and guide the profession for all Australians.

October 31, 2020


Posted by: Renae Kilmister