Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


OTHY101 Health and Occupation AND (UNCC100 Self and Community: Exploring the Anatomy of Modern Society OR PHIL103 ORIGINS OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY OR PHIL104 Introduction to Ethics )

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Occupational therapists need to understand people as individuals within their social systems and the influence of sociological factors on their health and participation. In this unit you will learn about the social and ecological determinants of First Peoples’ health and wellbeing. Students will reflect on and develop their capacity as culturally responsive health care practitioners and examine culturally safe and responsive health care delivery from First Peoples’ perspectives. This will also enhance students’ responsiveness to work with people from a range of cultural backgrounds.

You will draw on your learning from first year units and undertake 25 hours of community engagement experience. The Community Engagement experience is central to the development of your cultural responsiveness and professional practice skills and forms part of the 1000 hours of professional practice experience required to graduate as an occupational therapist.

This unit contains five learning outcomes from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capabilities of Respect Communicate and Reflect.

The overall aim of this unit is to provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills needed to analyse sociological and occupational determinants of First Peoples’ health and well-being and develop their cultural responsiveness to support future practice.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - HCF 1.3 Incorporate strategies for delivering health care that builds trust and relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities (GA1, GA2, GA5, GA7)

LO2 - HCF 3.3 Design strategies for delivering culturally safe health care with respect to individual and cultural and linguistic diversity (GA1, GA2, GA6)

LO3 - HCF 5.1 Identify key terms and definitions in the context of delivering culturally safe health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients (GA1, GA6)

LO4 - HCF 6.2 Analyse differences between own verbal and non-verbal communication and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, and the implications for health care (GA1, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

The Bachelor of Occupational Therapy Course is a professional program that requires development of particular attributes for accreditation purposes.

These are also included in the Learning Outcomes. You will work towards achieving the following Occupational Therapy Australia Competency Standards in this unit:

Standards/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Standard 1 - Professionalism 

An occupational therapist practises in an ethical, safe, lawful and accountable manner, supporting client health and wellbeing through occupation and consideration of the person and their environment.

An occupational therapist:

1.1 complies with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s standards, guidelines and Code of conduct

1.2 adheres to legislation relevant to practice

1.3 maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

1.4 recognises and manages conflicts of interest in all client and professional


1.5 practises in a culturally responsive and culturally safe manner, with particular respect to culturally diverse client groups

1.6 incorporates and responds to historical, political, cultural, societal, environmental and economic factors influencing health, wellbeing and occupations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

1.7 collaborates and consults ethically and responsibly for effective client-centred and interprofessional practice

1.8 adheres to all work health and safety, and quality requirements for practice

1.9 identifies and manages the influence of her/his values and culture on practice

1.10 practises within limits of her/his own level of competence and expertise

1.11 maintains professional competence and adapts to change in practice contexts

1.12 identifies and uses relevant professional and operational support and supervision

1.13 manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively

1.14 recognises and manages her/his own physical and mental health for safe,

professional practice

1.15 addresses issues of occupational justice in practice

1.17 recognises and manages any inherent power imbalance in relationships with clients.

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 2 - Knowledge and learning 

An occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills and behaviours in practice are informed by relevant and contemporary theory, practice knowledge and evidence, and are maintained and developed by ongoing professional development and learning.

An occupational therapist:

2.1 applies current and evidence-informed knowledge of occupational therapy and other appropriate and relevant theory in practice

2.2 applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decision-making

2.3 identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decision-making

2.4 understands and responds to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

philosophies, leadership, research and practices

2.5 maintains current knowledge for cultural responsiveness to all groups in the

practice setting

2.8 reflects on practice to inform current and future reasoning and decision-making and the integration of theory and evidence into practice

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

3. Standard 3 - Occupational therapy process and practice 

An occupational therapist’s practice acknowledges the relationship between health, wellbeing and human occupation, and their practice is client-centred for individuals, groups, communities and populations.

An occupational therapist:

3.1 addresses occupational performance and participation of clients, identifying the enablers and barriers to engagement

3.2 performs appropriate information gathering and assessment when identifying a client’s status and functioning, strengths, occupational performance and goals

3.3 collaborates with the client and relevant others to determine the priorities and occupational therapy goals

3.4 develops a plan with the client and relevant others to meet identified occupational therapy goals

3.5 selects and implements culturally responsive and safe practice strategies to suit the occupational therapy goals and environment of the client

3.6 seeks to understand and incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ experiences of health, wellbeing and occupations encompassing cultural connections

3.7 reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and


3.8 identifies and uses practice guidelines and protocols suitable to the practice setting or work environment

3.10 reviews, evaluates and modifies plans, goals and interventions with the client and relevant others to enhance or achieve client outcomes

3.11 evaluates client and service outcomes to inform future practice

3.12 uses effective collaborative, multidisciplinary and interprofessional approaches for decision-making and planning

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Standard 4 - Communication 

Occupational therapists practise with open, responsive and appropriate communication to maximise the occupational performance and engagement of clients and relevant others.

An occupational therapist:

4.1 communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

4.2 adapts written, verbal and non-verbal communication appropriate to the client and practice context

4.3 works ethically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and

organisations to understand and incorporate relevant cultural protocols and

communication strategies, with the aim of working to support self-governance in communities

4.4 uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies

4.8 maintains collaborative professional relationships with clients, health professionals and relevant others

4.9 uses effective communication skills to initiate and end relationships with clients and relevant others

4.10 seeks and responds to feedback, modifying communication and/or practice accordingly, and

4.11 identifies and articulates the rationale for practice to clients and relevant others.

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5


Topics will include:

Sociological analysis

  • To analyse social determinants of health
  • To analyse ecological determinants of health
  • The interdependency between human agency and social structure
  • Reflective practices
  • Critical thinking
  • Social change

Cultural responsiveness

  • First Peoples’ health and wellbeing from a sociological and historical perspective
  • Health and well-being from a cultural perspective
  • Culturally safe practices in health care delivery
  • Health and well-being
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors
  • Community self-determination

Occupational perspectives of health and well-being

  • Models of practice
  • KAWA Model
  • Community Development
  • Occupational adaptation
  • Social factors determining occupational roles and participation
  • Occupational roles and participation linked to health, illness, disability and disadvantage
  • Occupational deprivation

Evidence based practice

  • Sources of knowledge
  • Locating and understanding relevant research

25 hours Community Engagement

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and Teaching approaches included in this unit were developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors. This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of the essential knowledge and skills associated with sociological analysis and cultural responsiveness. Students are required to attend lectures and co-facilitated tutorial classes to participate in the construction and synthesis of this knowledge and skills with other students. This will enable the development of a level of understanding needed to work with people from different social and cultural backgrounds through focusing on First Peoples’ health and wellbeing. Students are required to complete 25 hours of community engagement with a community organisation. This approach allows for fundamental knowledge and skill development with expert support.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment approaches in this unit have been developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors. The assessments in this unit are designed to help students monitor the development of their cultural responsiveness and integrate the theoretical learning about the social determinants of health and well-being with their community engagement experiences.

The unit includes Aboriginal learning approaches thus one of the assessment tasks requires the students to visually represent their learning related to cultural responsiveness using a KAWA cross-section. In their final reflective piece, students refer to the KAWA cross-sections and incorporate their reflections on community engagement with the theoretical underpinnings taught in the unit. They also contribute periodically throughout the semester to online discussions in response to a set of questions related to the various determinants of health and other students’ posts. In addition, students work in groups to prepare an oral presentation in response to one of several First Peoples’ vignettes with attention to cultural considerations, communication and relevant social determinants of health. Students work with cultural mentors during tutorial time to prepare their presentations and then subsequently present the material in front of the mentor. This process is designed to provide a safe space for students to ask questions and seek cultural guidance from the mentors as well as take responsibility for delivering the material in a culturally respectful manner. The assessments in this unit are designed to provide formative opportunities, interactions with classmates, mentors and tutors, and opportunities to gradually deepen their reflective skills and the learning that comes with this.

This unit may also be offered in intensive (2-week) mode from the Rome campus. The materials and assessments are consistent with the semester mode materials with the exception of the presence of cultural mentors for the oral presentations on First Peoples’ health and well-being. Guidance from a cultural mentor is obtained via email and/or online (when the timing works), and the oral presentations are recorded and sent through for feedback and cultural guidance from the mentor.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment1: Online Discussion:

Enables students to develop knowledge and understanding of the sociological determinants of health in individuals within social systemsthrough participating in three 200-word online discussion forums. 


LO3, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6

Assessment 2: Group Oral Presentation

Students develop oral presentation and group-work skills by working in groups of 4 to present the determinants of health from a First Australian perspective in response to a given vignette


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7

Assessment 3: Written Paper 

Students track and reflect on development of their cultural responsiveness using KAWA cross-sections and a reflective essay based on these cross-sections and their community engagement experiences


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7

1. Completion of community engagement orientation session and submit community engagement timesheet (minimum 25 hours)

Hurdle Task


GA1, GA2, GA6

2. Assessment 2: Agreement of Contribution Form

Hurdle Task

LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7

3. Assessment 2: Record of Contribution Form

Hurdle Task

LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA5, GA6, GA7

Representative texts and references

Germov, J. (Ed.). (2014). Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology (5th ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Carson, B., Dunbar, T., Chenhall, R.D., & Bailie, R. (2007). Social determinants of Indigenous health. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.

Duckett, S. & Wilcox, S. (2011). The Australian Health Care System (4th ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Dempsey, I & Nankervis, K (Ed.). (2006). Community Disability Services: An evidence –based approach to practice. Sydney: University of NSW Press.

Helman, C., (2007). Culture, health and illness (5th ed.). London: Hodder Arnold.

Iwama, M. (2006). The Kawa Model: Culturally relevant occupational therapy. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. 

Kelleher, H. & MacDougall, C. (Ed.). (2011). Understanding Health: A determinants approach. (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Morseu-Diop, N. (2017) Healing in Justice. Brisbane: Magpie Goose Publishing.

Smith, J.D. (Ed.) (2007). Australia’s Rural and Remote Health. A social justice perspective (2nd ed.) Victoria: Tertiary Press.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs