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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is an allied health care profession which enables skills for living.  Occupational therapy focuses on enabling better health, independence and wellbeing through therapeutic use of everyday occupations (activities or tasks).  Occupational therapists aim to help people improve functional skills to enhance occupational performance.  Occupational therapy is recognised as an integral part of health care services and assists a wide range of people who experience problems throughout the lifespan.

What do occupational therapists do?

Occupational therapist work roles can include:

  • Conducting assessments of developmental, emotional, functional, physical and psychological capabilities
  • Planning and promoting therapeutic programmes using educational, recreational, remedial, social and vocational occupations
  • Designing and selecting activities that promote function or movement and assist individuals to engage in activities of daily living such as dressing and eating
  • Assisting children with disabilities to integrate with their peers within education and school environments
  • Designing and modifying environments to enable better access, independence and return home
  • Providing information on specialised equipment such as home modifications, kitchen utensils and wheelchairs
  • Conducting needs analyses, coordinating, developing and running health education and promotion programmes
  • Consulting for private industry and government departments
  • Research
  • Assisting in policy development for health and other related areas

Where can occupational therapists work?

Occupational therapy is growing and the profession is particularly needed in rural and remote areas of Australia.  JCU graduates have demonstrated their competencies and the efficacy of the program by competing for employment in public, private and industrial organisations across Queensland and Australia.  An increasing number of our graduates are now supervising our current students as they complete fieldwork placements in each year of their course.  There is increasing demand for occupational therapy graduates in industry such as mining and private occupational therapy practice.

Occupational therapists can work in a wide variety of settings in:



Australian trained occupational therapists can work overseas and JCU graduates are highly regarded.  Countries occupational therapists can work in include Canada, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and many more.  Useful websites include:

Common areas of employment for Occupational Therapists

  • Community services
  • Disability services
  • Early intervention
  • Government – Commonwealth, State or Local
  • Health promotion
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health services
  • Non government organisations
  • Nursing homes
  • Private practice
  • Rehabilitation
  • Schools
  • Universities