Occupational therapy

What is an occupation?

An occupation is any task, activity or routine that is important, meaningful and relevant to a person. It could be something done at work, at home or out in the community. It could be a task that is part of paid employment, a leisure activity or personal care tasks such as eating drinking or dressing.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by working with people and communities to enhance their ability to engage in the occupations they want to, need to, or are expected to do, or by modifying the occupation or the environment to better support their occupational engagement. Source: World Federation of Occupational Therapists

What do occupational therapists do?

The work performed by qualified occupational therapists is quite varied. For example, they can:

  • assist children with learning disabilities to complete hand writing and other tasks in the classroom
  • assist adults to bathe and dress after they have had a stroke
  • modify workplaces so that people with an injury can return to work
  • assess, eliminate and minimise workplace risk factors to keep people safe
  • teach parents how to care for their child after a motor vehicle accident
  • teach people how to drive an adapted motor vehicle
  • design renovation plans to ensure a person's home is accessible for their wheelchair or 
  • access and design public parks, recreation area or access to public transport so that they can be enjoyed by everyone.

Becoming an occupational therapist

Southern Cross University's Bachelor of Occupational Therapy provides students with the professional qualification necessary to practice as an Occupational Therapist in Australia. This course has been developed in consultation with occupational therapy professionals and other important interest groups, including Occupational Therapy Australia and regional health and community services. The degree has received full accreditation from Occupational Therapy Australia and the Occupational Therapy Council, and is approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. Graduates are eligible for national registration and membership of Occupational Therapy Australia.

Occupational therapy has been identified as a high job growth area by the Australian Government’s Job Outlook. Southern Cross University was the first to offer a degree in occupational therapy in the Tweed-Gold Coast region, providing specialised training in an area that is showing increasing demand for qualified professionals. In 2019 the degree will be offered for the first time in Coffs Harbour where a new allied health building with a dedicated occupational therapy laboratory is being built. With a range of exciting work placements in each year of the program, you will graduate with the skills you need for a rewarding career in occupational therapy.

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Graduate story

portrait of Meredith Gardiner

Meredith Gardiner was offered a job just four weeks into her final placement.

Read more of Meredith's story