UQ occupational therapy student, Kirsty Bailey, with a group of children from The Murri School
UQ occupational therapy student, Kirsty Bailey, with a group of children from The Murri School
23 August 2011

Students from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences have completed their first semester of an inter-professional service with Indigenous children.

The Centre for Indigenous Health Workforce Development Coordinator, Dr Alison Nelson, said while she had been supervising occupational therapy students at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Independent Community School (The Murri School) for 14 years it was the first time speech pathology students were involved.

“It was wonderful to have the addition of speech pathology, both as an inter-professional learning experience for the students and because it benefitted the school students by integrating so much of what was required for literacy development in the early years,” Dr Nelson said.

The university students worked in pairs to facilitate motor skills, writing skills and language and literacy sills for children in Prep, Year one and two.

Students Angela Darlow and Margo Blaylock said the program has equipped them with practical techniques when dealing with Indigenous children.

“It certainly showed me how OT and Speech compliment each other and how to draw from the knowledge of other professions for a more rounded approach to planning and the implementation of the plan,” Ms Darlow said.

Ms Blaylock said the course has improved her understanding of Aboriginal cultures and how to then integrate this understanding into her therapy.

“I found the experience gave me greater insight into how the values of Aboriginal culture play out in the lives of Aboriginal children. In our lectures we are given some idea as to what these values might be. The only way I can explain this is that placement helped me put faces, attitudes and personalities to these values which helped me find ways to adapt my approach to therapy,” Ms Blaylock said.

Occupational therapy, speech pathology, and dental students have also been involved in the annual Gundoo Mirra “Murri Kids in the Park” Day at Acacia Ridge as part of under 8’s week celebrations.

Students were part of a large team providing health education messages and fun activities for the children.

Dr Nelson said feedback from the organisers and the students has been very positive.

“We were fortunate to have an Indigenous dental assistant come with us who has been trained by UQ’s School of Dentistry and is now working in the local Indigenous health service. This is a great example of new partnerships being formed between the university and the Indigenous health sector,” Dr Nelson said.

The School of Dentistry is also placing students within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community health Service in Brisbane.

Media: Dr Alison Nelson, Workforce Development Coordinator (07) 3648 9500 or alison.nelson@iuih.org.au