OTA advocates on behalf of members to bring the concerns of occupational therapists and their clients to the attention of government. In the fields where OTs work (health, aged care, disability services, veterans’ affairs, WorkCover and transport), government policy affects the ease and effectiveness with which OTs do their work and the fees they are paid for doing that work.
OTA works to ensure that the great work being done by OTs, their potential to do more, and the challenges they face, are brought to the attention of policy makers and bureaucrats.
In the private sector, decisions are made which affect OTs and their clients. OTs are directly affected by the product design and policies of the private health insurance funds, for example. Now more than ever, in a deregulated market with multiple players, it is important that these entities are aware of what it is OTs do and the difference they make in the lives of their clients.
OTA also has a presence on a multitude of committees in the health, disability and aged care spaces, as well as actively contributing to the work of overarching bodies such as Allied Health Professions Australia, the National Aged Care Alliance, the National Assistive Technology Alliance and Mental Health Australia. Sector-wide organisations such as these are fundamental to our capacity to identify and act upon emerging issues of concern.
Occupational Therapy Australia ensures the interests of the profession are constantly brought to the attention of federal and state/territory governments, and the numerous departments and agencies with which occupational therapists work. We respond to government inquiries and discussion papers, making informed submissions on any subject of importance to our members and the clients they serve. These submissions are based on feedback sought and received from members; this access to the policymaking and advocacy process is another key benefit of OTA membership. As a result of our written submissions, OTA regularly appears before parliamentary committees conducting inquiries into areas of concern to OTs.
OTA meets regularly with the decision makers who help shape the environment in which OTs work. These include Government Ministers, Shadow Ministers, influential MPs and senior public servants.
In the lead up to all elections, OTA writes to the major political parties, raising issues of concern to our members and seeking specific undertakings from them should they form government. This correspondence is available for members and the public to read on the Budgets & Elections page.. OTA is also active in Budget season, undertaking detailed analysis of the Federal and all state and territory budgets. Again, this analysis is available under the Budgets & Elections page.
OTA members represent their profession on those advisory committees established by governments across Australia to help guide the development and implementation of policy around such issues as health, disability, aged care, veterans’ affairs, Indigenous affairs, and state and territory based compensable schemes.
We are also actively represented by members on the sector-wide peak bodies with which OTA is affiliated. These include the National Aged Care Alliance, Mental Health Australia and the National Assistive Technology Alliance.
Occupational Therapy Australia's policymaking and advocacy is driven by our membership. National Reference Groups bring together occupational therapists with experience and expertise in five areas of key importance to our members: The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Aged Care, Veterans’ Affairs, Mental Health and Primary Health. These groups meet regularly to ensure OTA’s national advocacy is appropriately focussed and informed.
Similarly, our Special Interest Groups (SIGS) and Regional Interest Groups (RIGs) enable Association members to share their expertise and to collaborate on issues of importance as they arise. These groups are often state based, allowing for the timely lobbying of state and territory governments.
OTA members wishing to play a more active role in the development of OTA policy are encouraged to watch for updates on our website, in our email newsletter, OT Today, and in Connections, our bimonthly member magazine.
Members are urged to nominate their areas of expertise and interest when joining OTA or renewing their membership. This ensures members can be alerted to issues of importance to them and to opportunities for involvement in relevant interest groups.
As the Association is approached for consultation, or a member or member group identifies an issue of concern, we will often issue a call for feedback to the broader membership. Requests for feedback are usually included in e-bulletins and on our website or, if very specific, via direct email to members who have indicated their expertise in the relevant field.
If members become aware of a developing issue of concern, they are encouraged to contact the Association with detail if it is a national issue or state specific so that it can be actioned as quickly as possible.
If the issue is specific to an individual practitioner, it is the responsibility of the practitioner to address the issue with the relevant stakeholder or agency. The practitioner is welcome to consult with the Association if they require assistance or advice regarding their handling of the issue.
Occupational Therapy Australia undertakes regular promotional activities aimed at the wider community, potential stakeholders and potential occupational therapists. We strive to promote the benefits of participation in the occupational therapy profession, or engaging the services of an occupational therapist.
One way we do this is by accepting invitations to provide representatives to careers days and conference/event trade stands. We also host educational events at relevant exhibitions, such as the Annual Carex Expo, aimed at the ageing population and their carers. We accept volunteer help from our members to deliver our pre-prepared presentations and promotional material.
In 2017 OTA launched the consumer website About Occupational Therapy to promote the profession to those seeking assistance, their families and carers to provide clear and concise explanations about occupational therapy and the areas of expertise.
OTA encourages cross-promotion of the ot profession with members and non-members through social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Regular posts, tweets and memes are published publically highlighting the benefits of occupational therapy, news articles, industry updates and Advocacy activities directly impacting the ot profession. These posts often invite discussion from members and non-members alike, other allied health professionals and the general public.
Where relevant, we invite member occupational therapy practitioners to provide promotional material for us to promote their particular services at these events.
For further information regarding the promotion of occupational therapy or other promotional material, including requests to be included in upcoming events, please contact OTA.
Advocacy Policies & Processes
OTA’s Documentation Framework explains, amongst other things, how as a member you can request an issues paper, position paper or guide to good practice, as well as explaining our processes for submissions and media releases.
This Advocacy Flowchart has been developed in response to some feedback from members regarding the allocation of resources in addressing urgent advocacy issues. The matter was discussed at the 2016 OTA Annual General Meeting and a working party was formed following a special resolution. The Board is grateful to those members who provided the initial feedback and enabled the development of this new process.