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South Australia’s first Aboriginal occupational therapy graduate

Inspirational, Occupational Therapy

As a Kaurna man from South Australia, Trevor Ritchie made history when he completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) in 2013, becoming the first indigenous graduate of this course in South Australia.

As a child Trevor suffered from health issues and struggled to keep up with the other kids in the classroom at school. Also, having to travel between Yorke Peninsula and South Australia’s West Coast on a regular basis meant he had to keep jumping between schools. His family did settle in Adelaide so he and his siblings could have consistency and concentrate on their education.

Trevor’s background has inspired him to become an occupational therapist as a means to help children, especially Aboriginal children to be given the best start in life.

Having not completed year 12, and taking up a job and TAFE study immediately after high-school, he had the challenge of having to learn how to study all over again, when he entered the OT course. Also, being older than the other students in the class and being an aboriginal, their views, values, attitudes and the very upbringing and environment differed. Therefore, during his initial periods at the university, he had felt very isolated, which he won over through his stubbornness and help from his mentors, both professional and cultural.

Trevor’s friends, family and community were very excited with him studying to become an OT, following Trevor giving them a 15 minute explanation of what an OT does!!They believe that OT involves a holistic view of health, which aligns with an Aboriginal view of health.

Trevor says: “To people, young or old, who are thinking about pursuing a career in OT I would say that if you like working alongside people and communities to enable them to do things they have to do, love to do and would like to do – then go for it! If you like thinking outside of the box and being able to take an holistic approach to health care, then definitely consider studying Occupational Therapy.”

To read more about Trevor, go to the Indigenous Allied Health Australia website.

Image credit: Les Haines – flickr

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