A Profile of Occupational Therapy in Australian Education
There is growing evidence for the need for occupational therapists in government-funded primary schools and preschools across Australia. Anecdotally and through some evidence sources, such as documented school policies and an international mapping review conducted in 2019 (Boshoff, Bowen and Gilbert-Hunt), it is evident that there are inconsistencies surrounding the role of occupational therapists across the different states and territories. In order to enable advocacy and further development of the roles, we aimed to establish a clear description of the role of occupational therapy in education, through collaboration with key stakeholders and information gathering from occupational therapists around Australia.
As part of a student project, we gathered information from representatives from each state and territory, utilised existing documentation and worked with a steering group to consolidate the information and develop a summary report describing the role of occupational therapy in Australian education. We gathered information about the employment and funding of occupational therapists in schools, the service delivery models used, strengths of certain models and the challenges facing occupational therapists in schools.
As primary outcome of this project, we provide a description of the occupational therapy role in Australian government-funded preschools and primary schools. The information gathered highlights the variation in occupational therapy presence, employment and service delivery across states and territories in Australia. It is evident that the majority of states and territories lack easily accessible documentation of the occupational therapy presence, employment and service delivery models. Key strengths and challenges were identified. Various recommendations are made for the profession and education communities to further progress the role in education nation-wide.
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