Allied health initiatives showcased at final year student conference
Student Taneal Norman with Supervisors Associate Professor Wendy Pearce (left) and Ms Fiona Eastley (right)
Final year occupational therapy, social work and speech pathology students came together for the National School of Allied Health student conference on 2 November 2017. This important event takes place annually, celebrating significant achievements, and providing students with an opportunity to present projects on their practical placements and honours research to an audience of staff, lecturers, students, guests and representatives from ACU’s partner organisations.
More than 200 occupational therapy projects, 100 speech pathology projects, and 40 social work projects were showcased, demonstrating how the students’ years of study would translate to the workplace.
Occupational therapy students Petar Bezek and Micaela Hurst did their placement at the NSW Refugee Health Service. Their project, ‘Introducing occupational therapy into the NSW refugee health service’, established the foundations for an occupational therapy service in this important practice area.
“The project included stakeholder interviews and extensive literature research to inform a knowledge base about working with refugees, and developing and trialling a home-based initial assessment and other resources to drive occupational therapy input in the service,” said Dr Margaret Wallen, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy.
Speech pathology student Taneal Norman presented on her honours project titled ‘The Evaluation of the Sounds, Words, Aboriginal language and Yarning (SWAY)’ which explored the nature and development of SWAY, a school-based oral language and early literacy program based on Aboriginal stories, knowledge, and culture, and the perceptions of teaching staff currently delivering SWAY across four rural NSW schools.
“What is particularly special about this research is that it highlights how Aboriginal perspectives can be embedded in the classroom to create an inclusive learning environment that celebrates culture,” said Taneal. “It is great that I can present findings that support and encourage the ongoing provision of a program that has both built the capacity of teaching staff and supported the oral language and literacy development of students.”
Social work student Siobhan Reader presented on her placement project at New Horizons, a non-profit organisation focusing on mental health and disability. New Horizons’ Respite Centre aims to encourage resilience among groups of men and women.
“Being part of the Centre’s development in giving individuals a voice and undertaking background research in a field that I wasn’t familiar with, were among the best aspects of this project,” said Siobhan.
Professor Daryl Higgins, Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies, delivered the keynote address. His expertise and experience was an excellent addition to the conference program as he spoke about child-safe organisational strategies, reflecting on its relevance for our graduating students’ professions in their chosen fields.
National Head, School of Allied Health, Professor Christine Imms said the conference program was rich in diversity with placement reports from a range of settings.