Labor and the Greens endorse role of occupational therapy ahead of Saturday’s Tasmanian election
The Tasmania Division of Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) has welcomed undertakings from the Australian Labor Party and the Greens in the lead up to the May 1 state election.
Correspondence detailing issues of concern to occupational therapists was sent on 4 April to the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the Tasmanian Greens. As of today, the Labor Party and the Greens had responded.
OTA’s Tasmanian Divisional Manager, Alina Tooley, said the purpose in writing to the parties was to raise awareness of the great work done by occupational therapists, and to draw attention to their concerns and those of their clients.
“The exercise also enables our members to make an informed decision at the ballot box,” Ms Tooley said. “While it is great the Labor Party and the Greens have responded, it is regrettable that the current Liberal government has opted not to engage with our membership, particularly with health policy being such an important issue at this election.”
Responding on behalf of the Tasmanian Labor Party, Rebecca White MP, Tasmanian Labor Leader, recognised the significant role played by occupational therapists in supporting Tasmanians and acknowledged that validity of commitments sought by OTA.
Ms White indicated a Tasmanian Labor Government will implement its Health Action Plan from Day One post-election, to address the many issues besetting the health system. Labor’s Community First – Integrated Health Strategy will embed multidisciplinary teams in community health centres across Tasmania, including sixty additional allied health practitioners. Labor will employ 15 permanent occupational therapists as part of the community allied health package. This package will ensure all 30 community health centres are staffed by an allied health team of occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians and exercise physiologists.
Dr Rosalie Woodruff, Tasmanian Greens Health spokesperson acknowledged the important work occupational therapists do in keeping people well for longer, and in helping people heal and recover from injury and sickness. The Greens have committed to:
- Support occupational therapists being included in the long-term response to COVID-19.
- Increasing the number of allied health practitioners across Tasmanian community health by 50. This would include occupational therapists.
- Examining all mental health funding needs with an eye to the inclusion of occupational therapists, as well as other professions.
- Recognising that occupational therapy workloads, pay equity, professional development opportunities, and workforce shortages are significant issues.
- Exploring all options to address the shortage of occupational therapists in Tasmania.
- An understanding that while it’s essential for Tasmanians to have local education options to become occupational therapists, other measures are also required to meet workforce needs.
- Developing a clear statement about the role of allied health professionals within primary care to guide future work by the Tasmanian Department of Health and any taskforces or committees.
- Recognising the key role allied health professionals play in the health and wellbeing of the community, and clarifying the funding model for the sector into the future.
- Significant investment to improve medical record systems and a commitment to invest in access to data reporting and analysis support for occupational therapists and other allied health teams, thereby facilitating informed decision making and service evaluation and design.
- Ensuring all public health facilities are fit for purpose and developing an investment plan to fix those that are not.
- Actioning occupational therapy recommendations for social housing tenants, as these modifications lead to improved health outcomes and reduced hospital admissions for a very vulnerable cohort of the Tasmanian community.
Ms Tooley thanked those parties which responded to OTA’s correspondence. All correspondence can be viewed on the OTA website:
Michael Barrett | Government, Media and Public Relations
0403 795 505
About Occupational Therapy Australia
Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. We offer opportunities for our members to enhance best practice through professional development, support, and access to profession-specific information.