E-news Issue 6
Monday, 09 August 2021
Charles Darwin University
E-news
CDU Occupational Therapy Lecturer Rebecca Smith has won the inaugural national Occupational Therapy School of Victoria Clinical Award.
CDU Occupational Therapy Lecturer Rebecca Smith has won the inaugural national Occupational Therapy School of Victoria Clinical Award.

CDU Lecturer’s award for investigating culturally safe tool for Indigenous patients

Charles Darwin University (CDU) Lecturer Rebecca Smith has won the inaugural national Occupational Therapy School of Victoria Clinical Award for her PhD research investigating an occupational therapy cognitive assessment tool with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Ms Smith said she was excited to receive the award recognising the importance of her PhD topic for the occupational therapy profession.

“It’s a great opportunity to highlight the important role occupational therapists can have in assessing cognitive impairment when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Ms Smith said.

Qualified occupational therapists are in very high demand in the Northern Territory and Australia, so it is timely that CDU is offering a new postgraduate occupational therapy course commencing in August 2021.

“Occupational therapists are highly sought after in the allied health sector and the opportunity to educate occupational therapy students in the Northern Territory is exciting for the profession,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith has been working as an occupational therapist for 14 years, with the last 10 years working in the Northern Territory, where she developed a strong interest in the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Over this time, she and the clients she works with have identified challenges in providing culturally appropriate assessment and intervention strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with cognitive impairment.

“My PhD is a step toward an assessment approach that uses culturally appropriate and meaningful everyday tasks as a means of identifying cognitive strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

“Existing Western-based cognitive assessment methods are quite limited with a heavy reliance on Western education and language skills.”

Ms Smith is investigating the validity, clinical utility and cultural safety of the Perceive, Recall, Plan and Perform (PRPP) Assessment.

She has been awarded a $3000 grant, which will be used to create a video of the PRPP Assessment. The video will feature an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander actor as the simulated patient.

The video will be used with research participants to explore the key elements of culturally safe practice when using this assessment. It will also be a useful education tool for CDU’s occupational therapy students and practitioners in the community.