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Major NSW parties endorse greater roles for occupational therapists


The New South Wales division of Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) has welcomed several undertakings from the major political parties contesting Saturday’s state election.

Correspondence detailing issues of concern to occupational therapists in NSW was sent on 1 March to the Liberal Party, the Australian Labor Party, the Nationals, and the Greens. As of this morning, the Liberal and Labor parties had responded.

OTA’s Acting NSW Divisional Manager, Nicole O’Reilly, said it was heartening that several key concerns had received positive responses from both the Government and the Opposition.

Noting its record funding of NSW schools, the Berejiklian Government stated that principals have both the resources and flexibility to hire occupational therapists if they deem it necessary.

The NSW Government undertook to consider opportunities to provide better access to driver assessments by occupational therapists, based on advice from Roads and Maritime, Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety, and NSW Health.

With regard to gaps in services for those people under 65 years of age who are found to be ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and those 65 years and over who are on waiting lists for My Aged Care, the Berejiklian Government said it will continue to proactively identify, monitor and address any emerging gaps in service provision as the NDIS matures.

The NSW Government also noted that the NSW Strategic Framework and Workforce Plan for Mental Health 2018-2022 identifies increasing access to allied health, including occupational therapy, as a priority.

It also drew attention to the biggest social housing building program in the country, which will deliver 23,500 new or replacement dwellings over the next ten years. A further 3,400 dwellings will be delivered through Phases 1 and 2 of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund.

Responding to OTA’s correspondence, the Shadow Health Minister, the Hon. Walt Secord, committed a Labor Government to employing occupational therapists in those NSW schools where there is a determined need and capacity to do so.

Mr Secord also said a Daley Labor Government would examine the number of people impacted by constrained access to driver assessments and would then make a decision about government funding of such assessments.

He said a NSW Labor Government would respond to the recommendations of the recent NSW parliamentary inquiry into the implementation of the NDIS and would ensure emerging service gaps are addressed.

Significantly, Mr Secord said a Daley Labor Government would develop a plan to reinstate the role of the NSW Government as a public sector safety net to support people with disability. He said Labor had also committed to the continued funding of disability advocacy services in perpetuity.

Labor will also examine the needs and availability of allied health professionals in the NSW mental health sector, Mr Secord said. Labor has committed to delivering some 8,500 more personnel in the health sector, including allied health workers.

Mr Secord also outlined several new public housing initiatives Labor would undertake if elected.

Ms O’Reilly thanked those parties which had responded to OTA’s correspondence. All election related correspondence can be viewed here.

Occupational Therapy Australia is the professional association and peak representative body for occupational therapists in Australia. As of December 2018, there were more than 5,900 registered occupational therapists working in New South Wales.

Occupational therapists provide services such as physical and mental health therapy, vocational rehabilitation, assistive equipment advice, home modifications and chronic disease management, as well as key disability supports and services.

Media Contact
Michael Barrett | Government, Media and Public Relations
0403 795 505

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