Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


OTHY201 Social Determinants of First Peoples Health and Wellbeing OR OTHY211 Social Determinants of First Peoples Health and Wellbeing

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Understanding the factors that influence quality of life, health and well-being for people with disabilities is important for occupational therapists because of the profession’s focus on participation in everyday occupations and roles. In this unit, students examine the social context of disability by exploring key environmental factors identified in the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) including community attitudes, policies, legislation, health service delivery and barriers to participation. Students will examine and reflect on the role that occupational therapists, other allied health professionals, families, communities, and government agencies play in enabling occupational participation.

This unit builds on the experience and personal development gained by students in the unit OTHY201/OTHY211 by undertaking 25 hours of Community Engagement spread over the semester. In OTHY204 students collaboratively set and work towards an individually meaningful goal with an individual during Community Engagement, and consider the social and environmental factors that might influence that person’s participation in their local community. This unit includes learning outcomes from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework (HCF, 2014), specifically addressing the HCF Cultural Capabilities - Respect and Communicate.

The overall aim of this unit is for students to understand the social construction of disability and the role of occupational therapists in enabling occupational participation.

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 - Reflect on the role of the occupational therapist, other allied health professionals, families and members of the community in supporting participation for people with a disability (GA1, GA2, GA7, GA9)

LO2 - Apply the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health to analyse the impact of social and environmental factors on occupational participation for people with a disability (GA1, GA9)

LO3 - Examine current social theories that impact on policy and service delivery for people with a disability (GA2, GA9)

LO4 - Critique the impact of services, systems, policies and frameworks on health, participation and disability (GA6)

LO5 - HCF 2.2 - Examine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander key concepts of health and well being and the influence of culture, family and connection to country in health practice (GA1, GA9)

LO6 - HCF 7.2 - Analyse how knowledge of improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality/ morbidity can be used in strengths-based communication (GA1, GA7, GA9)

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 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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

2. adheres to legislation relevant to practice

3. maintains professional boundaries in all client and professional relationships

4. recognises and manages conflicts of interest in all client and professional relationships

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

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

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

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

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

11. maintains professional competence and adapts to change in practice contexts

12. identifies and uses relevant professional and operational support and supervision

13. manages resources, time and workload accountably and effectively

14. recognises and manages her/his own physical and mental health for safe, professional practice

15. addresses issues of occupational justice in practice

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

LO1, LO2, LO5, LO6

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:

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

2. applies theory and frameworks of occupation to professional practice and decisionmaking

3. identifies and applies best available evidence in professional practice and decisionmaking

5. maintains current knowledge for cultural responsiveness to all groups in the practice setting

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

9. maintains knowledge of relevant resources and technologies, and

10. maintains digital literacy for practice.

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5,LO6

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:

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

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

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

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

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

7. reflects on practice to inform and communicate professional reasoning and decisionmaking

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

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

11. evaluates client and service outcomes to inform future practice

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

13. uses appropriate assistive technology, devices and/or environmental modifications to achieve client occupational performance outcomes

LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5, LO6

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:

1. communicates openly, respectfully and effectively

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

4. uses culturally responsive, safe and relevant communication tools and strategies

7. obtains informed consent for practice and information-sharing from the client or legal guardian

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

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

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

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

LO1, LO2, LO5, LO6


The construction of disability and its relationship to Occupational Therapy including:

  • Use of occupational therapy models and processes
  • Social determinants of health and well-being
  • Person-centeredness
  • Strengths-based communication
  • Defining and describing disability
  • International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF)
  • Occupational participation and inclusion
  • The social construction of health, illness and disability
  • The influence of culture, family and connection to country on participation for First Peoples

Theories informing societal attitudes and values

Historical perspectives

Human services and disability

Social reform

The social model of disability

Empowerment and self-determination

Service systems, policies and supports

Describing and evaluating environments for people in service systems

Issues for carers and families

Natural supports, networks and relationships

The inter-relationship between environment, health, participation and disability



Community living

Employment and vocation

National Disability Insurance Scheme & National Disability Insurance Agency

Inter-professional collaboration and the multidisciplinary team 

Products and technology

The impact of the natural and built environment on participation

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies for this unit are designed to actively engage students in constructing an understanding of factors influencing occupational participation for people with disability and the role of occupational therapists and other professionals in supporting this participation. The strategy adopts a constructivist learning approach where students a) Acquire, b) Integrate, and c) Apply new knowledge to gain a deeper level of understanding across the semester. Through lectures, tutorials and self-directed learning students will acquire knowledge of the social model of disability and the ICF as a conceptual framework for understanding and analysing the social context of disability, and the individual and environmental factors which impact on occupational participation. Students use online case studies and the ICF framework in group-based tutorial activities to explore individual and environmental factors impacting on occupational participation. Students integrate and apply this knowledge in assessment 1.

Students will develop their understanding of the impact of services, systems and policies on occupational participation for people with disability in Australia. Weekly readings, lectures and tutorials focus on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and its role in supporting occupational participation. In assessment two students will apply their knowledge to develop group-based presentations on the barriers and enablers to the NDIS supporting occupational participation for First Peoples.

Throughout the semester students will apply their learning in real-life by setting and working towards an individually meaningful goal with a person with disability during community engagement. They reflect on their experience of collaborative goal setting during community engagement regularly with peers in tutorials, and in their final assessment piece.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop ACU graduate attributes. The assessment strategy includes: a written assignment (Assessment 1), a case-based group oral presentation (Assessment 2) and a written reflective piece (Assessment 3). This strategy will enable students to demonstrate their understanding of the social context of disability and the role Occupational Therapists, other allied health professionals, families, communities and government agencies play in enabling occupational participation. The assessments in this unit are scaffolded to enable students to adopt a person centred approach, starting with a focus on individual goal setting and intervention planning through development of an individual plan for supporting occupational participation and community engagement activities; extending out to consider the influence of broader social factors, including service systems, policies and supports on opportunities for individual participation through a case-based group oral presentation; and finishing with a reflection on individual and social factors impacting on participation for individuals encountered during community engagement.

Assessment 2 is a graded hurdle because it is the only assessment in this unit that evaluates students' achievement of LO6. Student groups need to achieve a grade of at least 50% in this assessment to pass the unit. Student groups who achieve a grade lower than 50% in this assessment will be provided one further attempt at this assessment.

Submission of community engagement documentation is a pass/fail ungraded hurdle requirement as these documents provide evidence of satisfactory completion of professional practice requirements in the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. Keeping records of students' professional practice education performance and hours is an accreditation requirement of the program.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1. Written Assignment

Students will demonstrate skills in gathering and presenting material related to evaluating the impact of social and environmental factors on occupational participation and communication for a client with a disability.  


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA2, GA7, GA9

Assessment 2. Case-based group presentation: students will deliver a group oral presentation examining the barriers and enablers to the NDIS supporting occupational participation for First Peoples


Graded Hurdle

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA6, GA7, GA9

Assessment 3. Post Unit Critical Reflection:

Students will write a reflection about their community engagement experience using concepts which have shaped their understanding of working with people with disabilities.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA6, GA7, GA9

Completion of Community Engagement hours including:

  1. Completion of an NDIS Worker Orientation Module
  2. Completion of Pre-Community Engagement Documentation
  3. Community Engagement Timesheet


Hurdle Requirement

LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2, GA6, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bickenbach, J., Felder, F., & Schmitz, B. (Eds.). (2014). Disability and the good human life. Cambridge University Press.

Ferdinand, A., Massey, L., Cullen, J., Temple, J., Chamravi, D., Meiselbach, K., Paradies, Y., Baynam, G., Savarirayan, R. and Kelaher, M. (2019). Understanding disability through the lens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people–challenges and opportunities. Palsy Alliance (Producer). (2012).Disability Dynamic [DQ Online Learning Portal]. Cerebral Palsy Alliance. 

Imms, C. (2020). The nature of participation. In Imms, C., & Green, D. (2020). Participation: Optimising outcomes in childhood-onset neurodisability (pp. 5-11). Mac Keith Press.

Olney, S., & Dickinson, H. (2019). Australia's New National Disability Insurance Scheme: Implications for Policy and Practice. Policy Design and Practice, 2(3), 275-290.

Townsend, E.A., & Polatajko, H.J. (2007). Enabling occupation II: Advancing an occupational therapy vision for health, well-being,& justice through occupation. Ottawa: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

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