Occupational Therapy Australia 28th National Conference and Exhibition 2019


An exciting and inspiring program for the 28th National Conference and Exhibition 2019 is now available!


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LeighSalesLeigh Sales is an award-winning author and journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and currently anchors the prime time flagship program 7.30.

From 2001 to 2005, she was the ABC's Washington Correspondent, covering stories including the aftermath of September 11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2004 Presidential election and Hurricane Katrina. From 2006 to 2008, Leigh was the ABC's National Security Correspondent, before becoming the anchor of Lateline.

In 2005, Leigh won a Walkley Award, Australia's highest journalism honour, for her coverage of Guantanamo Bay and the case of David Hicks. In 2012 Leigh was again presented the prestigious Walkley Award for best interviews for her work on 7.30. She's the author of three books; Any Ordinary Day, Detainee 002 and On Doubt and her writing appears in Australia's top newspapers and magazines.

She co-hosts a popular independent podcast with her colleague Annabel Crabb called Chat 10, Looks 3 about culture and politics.


Opening Keynote Presentation - The New Normal: Adapting to Life Changing Events
Wednesday 10 July 2019 at 9.30am in the Pyrmont Theatre



AlisonGerlachGrounded in over 25 years of being an occupational therapist in the United Kingdom and Canada, Dr. Alison Gerlach’s research and scholarship aims to reveal, disrupt, and address issues of social injustice and health inequities that effect young children who experience intersecting, structural forms of marginalization. During much of her career, Alison has been privileged to have, and continues to be humbled by her relationships with Indigenous communities, families, organizations, and colleagues in Canada. These relationships have had a profound impact on her thinking and doing in relation to occupational therapy and occupational science.

Alison is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Her current program of interdisciplinary and community engaged research is grounded in relational knowledges and informed by critical theoretical perspectives and critical scholarship in the areas of health equity and disability studies. In taking a critical stance, Alison is committed to advancing the potential of rehabilitation, health care, and early intervention to disrupt the pathways which link children’s early experiences of structurally-rooted adversity with subsequent higher risks of health and social inequities. Alison is extremely honored to deliver a keynote speech at the 28th Occupational Therapy Australia national conference that will bring an equity lens to the conference theme of ‘Together Towards Tomorrow’.


Keynote Presentation - Together Towards Health Equity for Tomorrow
Friday 12 July 2019 at 8.45am in the Pyrmont Theatre

Invited Presentation - Thinking and Researching Relationally: Resisting the Colonizing Potential of Research as a Non-Indigenous Research Partner
Friday 12 July 2019 at 1.25pm in the Meeting Room C3.3


NatashaLanninDr Natasha Lannin is an Associate Professor in Occupational Therapy at Alfred Health (Melbourne) and La Trobe University, and Honorary Research Fellow at the John Walsh Institute for Rehabilitation Research at The University of Sydney and the Florey Neurosciences at The University of Melbourne. Working within the Alfred Health hospital network, she conducts clinical trials and translation research and works alongside clinician researchers to build the evidence-base underpinning occupational therapy and rehabilitation.

She has published widely in leading journals such as Stroke, Journal of Epidemiology, and Clinical Rehabilitation, and has received competitive research grants from federal government (including NHMRC), state government (including the Transport Accident Commission) and philanthropic organisations (including the National Stroke Foundation).

Natasha represents the profession on the Stroke Foundation Clinical Council, and currently holds a Heart Foundation Future Leader fellowship dedicated to improving the translation of research into stroke rehabilitation.


Keynote Presentation - Attracting and Nurturing Clinician Researchers in Occupational Therapy
Wednesday 10 July 2019 at 4.15pm in the Pyrmont Theatre

Sylvia Docker Lecturer

Gail_WhitefordGail Whiteford has been an active contributor to, and influencer in, occupational therapy and occupational science for about three decades.

Over time she has served in clinical, managerial, academic and consulting roles including for the Department of Foreign Affairs, and was an invited facilitator on two European Commission funded programs in Southern and Eastern Europe. She has given occupational therapy keynotes presentations in 11 countries. Her contribution to the profession has been recognised through awards from international and national bodies including the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and OTA in the form of the Freda Jacob Award. She was made an inaugural Fellow of the Occupational Therapy Research Academy in 2017.

Professionally, Gail has held a number of senior academic, executive and conjoint appointments in Australia, New Zealand and Canada and served as Australia’s first Pro Vice Chancellor of Social Inclusion. In 2014 she was appointed by the Minister of Health in NSW to one of the district Boards and currently holds the position of Strategic Professor and Conjoint Chair of Allied Health and Community Wellbeing.

Additionally, Gail is Project Lead and Chief Investigator for the WFOT Occupational Narratives Data Base Project and Chief Investigator of a linked international study on the relationship between occupation, social connectedness and wellbeing.


Sylvia Docker Lecture - Together We Go Further
Thursday 11 July 2019 at 8.30am in the Pyrmont Theatre



Invited Speaker

LynLyn_Mahboub Mahboub works part time professionally across two divergent workplaces. One as a Clinical/Professional Fellow: Lecturer & Lived Experience Academic in the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology at Curtin University in WA. Here, she is co-lead of the Valuing Lived Experience Project (VLEP) – a fluid team working to embed lived experience into the OT and Social Work curricular. Additionally, she is as part of the senior management team at Richmond Wellbeing (WA) in the role of Strategic Recovery Advisor & Hearing Voices Liaison.

Lyn draws on her own recovery journey of over 40 plus years and lived experience of substance use, intense psychological and emotional distress (including voices and visions) as well as her formal academic training in Psychology and Communication & Cultural Studies and prior work in nursing.

Lyn was the inaugural Director of the Hearing Voices Network Australia, one of the co-founders of Consumers of Mental Health WA and an inaugural member of the member of the National Mental Health Commission Future Leaders Project and is a recipient of the 2009 Mental Health Good Outcomes Award for Excellence in mental health. She is very connected to the consumer community and serves as a Director on several boards.


Invited Presentation - Embedding Lived Experience into an Occupational Therapy Curriculum to Foster Skilled, Empathic and Compassionate Occupational Therapy Graduates
Wednesday 10 July 2019 at 1.35pm in the Pyrmont Theatre


Invited Speaker

ChristineImmsChristine Imms is a Professor of Occupational Therapy and was the inaugural National Head of School of Allied Health (2011-2018) and is the co-founding Director of the Centre for Disability and Development Research (2015 -) at the Australian Catholic University.

Christine’s clinical experience in paediatrics led to a long-standing interest in understanding the participation outcomes of those with childhood-onset neuro-disability. Using a range of methods and approaches, her research has predominantly involved children and young people with cerebral palsy, and been focused on describing patterns of participation, developing measures, designing and testing interventions of relevance to occupational therapy and other allied health practices.

Her research track record includes over 100 peer reviewed publications, more than $11.3million (AUD) in grant income, and supervision of 30 research students.



Invited Presentation - Participation: Starting with the End in Mind
Friday 12 July 2019 at 1.25pm in Meeting Room C2.3


Invited Speaker

AnnieMcCluskeyDr Annie McCluskey is an occupational therapist, health services researcher and implementation scientist.  She is an honorary academic at the University of Sydney and James Cook University, and member of The StrokeEd Collaboration.

Annie has received over $4 million in research funding, and published over 70 peer-reviewed papers.  In 2017, she became an inaugural Fellow of the Occupational Therapy Australia Research Academy.

Her current research and teaching focus on translating evidence into practice, in addition to the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of rehabilitation treatments to improve participation of stroke survivors and older adults.  Her research has investigated community outings and travel habits, driving and scooter use, handwriting, self-care and sexuality.

In 2011, Annie established The StrokeEd Collaboration with a physiotherapy colleague Karl Schurr.  StrokeEd provides evidence-based workshops to improve the skills, knowledge and practice of neurorehabilitation therapists, and influence the delivery of physical rehabilitation services to stroke survivors. Since 1992, they have conducted over 150 workshops across the world on upper limb retraining, including workshops in China, India and North Korea.

Invited Presentation - 10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a New Graduate About Stroke and Upper Limb Retraining
Wednesday 10 July 2019 at 11.05am in the Pyrmont Theatre




Wednesday 10 July 2019 at 2.40pm in the Pyrmont Theatre


Phil HazellPhil Hazell is Chair, Dementia Australia Advisory Committee and is enthusiastic about living well with dementia. He actively advocates for changing perspectives about people living dementia through media, policy development and research platforms. He is currently a co-researcher on a project to identify and disseminate enablers and barriers to workforce participation, based on his own experiences. When he was diagnosed with a dementia, his employer, colleagues and clients supported his choice to continue working for as long as possible. He was able to access reasonable workplace adjustment strategies including modified hours of work, modified duties, task simplification techniques with the help of 'Sara' his assistance dog.


 Hailing frCaleb_Rixonom Geelong, Victoria, Caleb is a major stroke survivor and founder/CEO of genyus - a global community and story sharing platform for young stroke and other trauma survivors. Caleb is a graduate of The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (BA) and The Victorian College of the Arts Film School (MA). As a passionate lived-experience storyteller, Caleb has been involved in numerous health related events having hosted forums, given talks plus keynote presentations for research and education organisations around Australia including Latrobe University, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health and The Australasian Society for the Study of Brain impairment 


Karen WellsKaren Wells has a Bachelor of Arts in Welfare Studies, a Masters in Social Policy and another in The Care and Protection of Children and Young People. She has worked in the Community Sector for many years primarily in Youth Work but more recently as the Consumer Coordinator at Inner West Sydney Partners in Recovery. During her time in this role, she developed and managed the consumer-led research project “ECT-Let’s talk about it!!” in collaboration with psychiatrists, occupational therapists, psychologists, peer workers and nurses from the Sydney Local Health District. Karen brought her personal experience of receiving ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) to inform this project and recently returned to The University of Sydney to continue research on other aspects related to ECT. The research questions guiding her higher degree research project are: What is the lived experience of people who have had or continue to have ECT as they participate in daily life? How do people perceive and adapt to the consequences of ECT for their daily lives?


Thursday 11 July 2019 at 10.50am in the Pyrmont Theatre




Aimee_Blacker Aimee currently lives in Newcastle NSW and is an occupational therapy graduate from the University of Newcastle. Aimee works as a paediatric occupational therapist and is the Co-founder and Director for the non for profit ‘Surfing the Spectrum’, providing an innovative community based surf therapy initiative for people with autism in an ocean environment.

Once she began work as a paediatric Occupational therapist, she soon saw how surfing was the simplest and most natural way to help develop sensory integration, motor and postural skills, and emotional regulation for her clients. Aimee has a passion for utilising nature as a therapeutic tool, and as such, was driven to share this vision to ensure more children are accessing this vital life sustaining resource.

Surfing the Spectrum is a newly formed non for profit, finding it’s feet within the start up world. With plans developing towards a self-sustaining social enterprise model, Aimee has had to learn quickly the in’s and out’s  within the NFP sector, ensuring a successful future for Surfing the Spectrum. The unique and valuable skills Aimee has an occupational therapist have worked to serve her and Surfing the Spectrum in building a foundation centred on positively affecting social change.


LeanneHealeyLeanne Healey has over 32 years experience as an Occupational Therapist. Her career began in public rehabilitation and then in acute care settings. Leanne subsequently moved to the private sector where she has worked for more than twenty years.

Over her career Leanne has built a reputation as a skilled occupational therapist in the area of neurology and spinal cord injuries. She is also in demand for complex medico-legal work. However, her broader passion is to bring a social model of disability to allied health.

Leanne founded Everyday Independence in 1997 and has developed it into a dynamic, inter-disciplinary, allied health organisation that achieves meaningful outcomes for people living with a disability and their families. Under Leanne’s leadership, Everyday Independence has grown to support tens of thousands of people to live to their full potential and enjoy an everyday life. The organisation now employs more than 150 team members with eleven offices across Victoria and New South Wales. Leanne has led Everyday Independence’s focus on innovation in evidence-based therapy with participation outcomes, within a funding envelope.

Leanne regularly contributes her expertise to OT Australia, TAC and NDIA reference groups.  She also supports the education and development of aspiring occupational therapists with her involvement at La Trobe University.

In 2018 Leanne was awarded Occupational Therapist of the Year at the inaugural Allied Health Awards, reflecting Leanne’s dedication to excellence and her contribution to the sector.



NickMaiseyNick Maisey is a leading West Australian social innovator, community builder and change-maker. In 2010, as an Occupational Therapy student, Nick founded Befriend, a Perth-based social enterprise that employs contemporary community building approaches to tackle social isolation, loneliness and exclusion. Nick has led Befriend’s service design and innovation work for the past 8 years, collaborating with government, community organisations, researchers and individuals from diverse backgrounds to nurture social connectedness and belonging for individuals and communities. Nick is a 2016 West Australian of the Year Finalist, the 2016 Curtin Young Alumnus Award Winner, 2014 Connect Groups Innovation Award Winner, and a School for Social Entrepreneurs Fellow.
In 2017, Nick Maisey became 1 of 10 Australians awarded a Social Change Fellowship through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, and undertook a 3-month global study of leading approaches to fostering inclusive, connected communities. Nick's fellowship insights are now being furthered through research in the space of social connectedness and belonging through Curtin University. He collaborates with community sector leaders across Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK and Denmark.


JordanOReillyJordan O’Reilly is the co-founder and CEO of Hireup, an online platform connecting Australians with disability with support workers who fit their needs and share their interests. For Jordan, the design of Hireup comes from a deep personal experience. As a sibling growing up alongside a brother with a disability, Jordan knew how important it was for people with a disability and their families to have control of their supports and at the same time as an OT student and disability support worker he could see the untapped potential of health students looking for meaningful employment. In just 3 years, Hireup has become a community of 50,000 registered users and a platform that caters to anyone with a disability looking for a range of one-on-one supports. The innovative for-purpose business was named Australia’s fastest growing tech company by Deloitte in 2017 and a Google.org Impact Challenge winner in 2018. Jordan was also recognised as EY’s 2018 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

Prior to Hireup, Jordan co-founded Fighting Chance Australia a not-for-profit organisation that exists to enrich the lives of young Australians with significant disabilities. Fighting Chance now supports over 200 young adults on a weekly basis toward goals of employment and social inclusion.




PANEL - Voice. Treaty. Truth: How Can Occupational Therapy Honour the 2019 NAIDOC Theme, Now and in the Future?

Thursday 11 July 2019 at 1.35pm in the Pyrmont Theatre



Corrine Corrine_ButlerButler is an Aboriginal woman with strong family connections to Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. She received an Occupational Therapy degree from James Cook University in 2009. She is co-founder of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network, a member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia and OT Australia. Corrine has worked as an Occupational Therapist in regional and remote areas across Queensland and the Northern Territory. She has worked for the Deadly Ears program in Queensland since 2015.


ChonteChontel_Gibsonl is a Kamilaroi woman with cultural connections to the Collarenebri area, in far north western NSW.  In 2000, Chontel was the first known Aboriginal woman awarded with an occupational therapy degree from The University of Sydney. Since then, Chontel has worked as an occupational therapist, policy officer and academic. During that time, Chontel held numerous leadership roles, including Board Director of Occupational Therapy Australia and the inaugural Deputy Chairperson for Indigenous Allied Health Australia. Chontel co-developed and continues to co-chair the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network. This network provides strategic advice, which has resulted in key changes, like the inclusion of culturally safe standards in the occupational therapy profession’s competency standards and the accreditation standards for universities. Chontel is building on her PHD, working with Aboriginal people to explore ageing, health, wellbeing and disability.


Trevor-TirTirritpa_Ritchieritpa Ritchie is a Kaurna man from Adelaide, South Australia. With cultural ties to Narrunga, Ngarrindjeri, Adnmaytha, Kokatha, Wirangu and Dunghutti.  He is the father of two children.

Growing up in remote Aboriginal communities he spent much of his childhood alternating between the Yorke Peninsula and the far west coast of South Australia. Tirritpa was one of the overwhelming number of children in remote communities to have otitis media. The outcomes and effects of this inspired his work in health for Aboriginal peoples.

Tirritpa completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) with the University of South Australia in 2013, and is the first identified Aboriginal person to graduate from OT in South Australia.

Tirritpa’s previous work history includes; multiple public service roles, such as youth mentoring in education, rehabilitation in corrections, welfare and tenancy in housing and youth work in social services.  He worked as an OT for Novita Children Services, Country Health SA; were he delivered OT services to remote communities in South Australia including his home community, a highlight of his career. He has worked for six years as a Curriculum Development Officer and Lecturer at the University of South Australia, developing Aboriginal Health curriculum, strategic implementation, planning and content delivery.

Tirritpa is currently a research assistant at the South Australian Medical Health Research Institute: Aboriginal Research Unit and Deputy Chair of Indigenous Allied Health Australia.





You can claim up to 25 hours of CPD at the Conference.  Click here to learn more about claiming your CPD.



Dont't miss out on the oppourtunity to hear directly from experienced clinicians, employers and managers, and recently graduated OTs at the Careers Forum.  For more information click here.


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