Academics join new OT research academy

Two La Trobe University occupational therapy professors have been chosen to be part of a new research academy.

The Occupational Therapy Australia Research Academy has been established to further understanding of how people can improve the state of their health by doing those everyday things that give them a sense of achievement, connection and meaning.

La Trobe academics Professor Leeanne Carey and Associate Professor Natasha Lannin are among 15 inaugural Fellows selected to join the research academy, announced at the Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) 27th National Conference and Exhibition in Perth last month.

OTA President Peter Bothams said the academy would support and recognise quality research aimed at further improving the well-being of Australians through the delivery of quality, evidence-based occupational therapy.

“As a professional association, OTA, works to ensure occupational therapists can commit to lifelong learning through continuing professional development and the dissemination of ideas and research at events like National Conference,” Mr Bothams said.

“But now OTA is formalising is formalising its commitment to academic research through the establishment of a research academy.”

OTA CEO, Rachel Norris, said the inaugural Fellows who were selected by a group of international assessors have collectively achieved some outstanding results.

“They have written more than 3000 publications; mentored more than 800 post-graduate research students; successfully obtained more than 500 grants which collectively equate to obtaining and managing more than $173 million in research funding,” Ms Norris said.

Chair of the OTA Research Foundation, Professor Gail Whiteford, who has overseen the creation of the academy, said Australia has world-class occupational therapy researchers and their work has helped us understand the important relationship between doing, meaning and well-being at all stages of life, for people of all backgrounds and ability levels.

“At a time when more and more Australians are living with chronic conditions, when more and more people are living in institutions or are socially isolated, focussing on personally and culturally meaningful activities and occupations is very important,” Professor Whiteford said.

“This is because it can be a powerful means of enhancing health and building social connections.

“That’s why occupational therapists have such an important role to play in our communities. It’s also why, according to a recent British study, their input can reduce hospitalisation rates and keep healthcare costs down.”