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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1602 ..


also a shortage of supervisors and placement opportunities, thus limiting the number of graduates in occupational therapy per year. If the ACT government were to fund one additional FTE occupational therapy practice educator at the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra, 14 students could graduate per year. Are you aware of the lack of placement opportunities?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for the question. Of course, the ACT government works very closely with the University of Canberra, which trains a range of graduates for our health system, both across nursing and allied health—and, of course, sports condition and all kinds of other things. We work very closely with them to understand the demand and also to enable placements. At the University of Canberra Hospital, for example, a specialist rehabilitation hospital, we have a very strong partnership with the University of Canberra in being able to provide student placements.

The particular issue of a single additional funded occupational therapy place and some placements for that has not been raised with me directly. I have a very good relationship with Michelle Lincoln, who runs the health area at University of Canberra hospital, so I am happy to discuss that with her. But we work very closely with the University of Canberra to understand the shortages and the demand pressures across the system. Allied health is critically important to our health system. I often talk about it as the glue that keeps the system together. It is an alternative support for people, but it is also a critical key support for people in managing a range of conditions, from early intervention right through to managing chronic conditions in older age. So I am very happy to continue to have that conversation with the University of Canberra.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, what have you done to create additional opportunities for students to get the necessary hours of supervised practice time?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: One of the things that we did only a couple of years ago was to open the new University of Canberra specialist rehabilitation hospital at the University of Canberra and to enter into a partnership with them to ensure there was both research and innovation and also training through that.

We have a range of partnerships with the University of Canberra. I will actually take that question on notice so that I can come back to Ms Castley with some more detailed information about the very wide range of placements that are available. I think it is really important to recognise in occupational therapy and in a range of other allied health areas that it is not only the health portfolio that uses those allied health skills; it is also other portfolios. I am very familiar in my portfolio of families and community services and Ms Berry’s portfolio of early childhood development around the importance of occupational therapists but also the wide range of allied health specialists across our community.

MRS JONES: Minister, have you spoken recently to OT Australia? Will you work with them to create more placement opportunities so that we can have more OTs graduate in the ACT?


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