Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

A basic assumption of occupational therapy is that there is an inter-relationship between health and occupation, and that occupational therapists use theories and occupational therapy conceptual models to analyse, understand and articulate the nature of this complex relationship. Learning in this unit includes core theory and concepts that form the foundations for occupational therapy practice and is closely linked to all other units of study in the course. This unit will introduce students to the unique relationship between health and occupation, central to occupational therapy.

This unit contains one learning outcome from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014) specifically addressing the HCF cultural capability Respect.

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:

L01 - Analyse the relationship between human health and occupation (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

L02 - Demonstrate an introductory understanding of the theories and conceptual models which inform occupational therapy practice using professional and academic skills involved in critical reading, researching and communication, both orally and in writing. (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9).

L03 - Individually and as part of a collaborative group, apply occupational therapy theories and conceptual models to the person, the environment and their occupational performance; (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9).

LO4 - HCF 4.1 Articulate the concept of cultural humility as a process of lifelong learning (GA5, GA9)

Graduate attributes

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018

Australian occupational therapy competency standards (AOTCS) 2018 developed within this unit are:

Standard/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 relationships

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.

LO2, LO3

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

2.6 Maintains and improves currency of knowledge, skills and new evidence for practice by adhering to the requirements for continuing professional development

2.7 Implements a specific learning and development plan when moving to a new area of practice or returning to practice

2.9 maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies 

LO1, LO2, LO3

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

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 Peoples’ experiences of health, wellbeing and occupations encompassing cultural connections

3.7 reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decision-making

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

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

LO1, LO2, LO3

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 

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

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

LO2, LO3


Study of occupations across the lifespan

  • Occupational performance and participation
  • Productivity
  • Leisure
  • Self-care

Theories of health and well-being

  • Occupational changes due to illness or disability
  • Impact of occupational changes on health and well-being
  • Spirituality, purpose and meaning
  • Cultural humility

Occupational therapy theory and selected models

  • Person-Environment-Occupation framework
  • Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement
  • Model of Human Occupation
  • KAWA model
  • International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)
  • Occupational Science

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will enable first year students to acquire, understand and then apply the key theory and concepts relevant to occupational therapy. Learning and teaching activities for this unit include lectures followed by small tutorial classes as well as self-directed learning outside of the class using resources available via the Learning Environment Online (LEO) and the library. Students will be expected to develop their independent academic skills and to participate actively within collaborative group activities where theory will be applied to simulated client case studies. This learning strategy has been chosen for this unit in order to prepare first year students for the development of the academic and profession-specific knowledge, skills and values required to become an occupational therapist. Learning and Teaching approaches included in this unit were developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are linked in a developmental sequence. Assessment 1 focuses on the acquisition of academic skills and conceptual knowledge combined with the prior knowledge of human health. Assessment 2 moves the emphasis from acquisition and focuses instead on the understanding of a specific occupational therapy conceptual model by means of a small group collaboration and oral presentation. Finally, a written exam allows students to individually apply their learning to case studies to demonstrate their ability to analyse, organise and articulate information in a discipline specific manner. . A Hurdle task requires students to evidence their understanding of Cultural Humility as a lifelong journey.The approach to assessing LO4 was developed in collaboration with First Peoples’ Cultural Advisors.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assessment:  Enables students to demonstrate their introductory ability to understand and articulate the basic assumptions of the occupational therapy profession and their meaning.


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Group oral presentation: Enables students to work collaboratively to demonstrate their ability to analyse, understand and apply an occupational therapy specific model to a case study.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Written Examination: Enables students to demonstrate their understanding and application of core learning undertaken within the unit including materials from lectures and tutorials


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA8, GA9

Cultural Humility

Students are required to submit a written account of their concept of cultural humility as a process of lifelong learning, demonstrating a novice level of understanding.




GA5, GA9

Representative texts and references

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

Taylor, R. (2017). Kielhofner’s model of human occupation. (5th Ed.). Philadelphia, MD: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins  

Townsend, E. A., & Polatajko, H. J. (2013). Enabling occupation II: Advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being and justice through occupation (2nd ed.). Ottawa: CAOT Publications ACE.  

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