Dr Janet Richmond runs a fieldwork extension opportunity for Occupational Therapy students in Vanuatu. In conjunction with Joint Therapy Outreach and Wheelchairs for Kids, students accompany a team of professional occupational therapists, speech pathologists and physiotherapists to provide support to disability services around various islands in Vanuatu. With only seven hospitals, many with only basic facilities, in a country made up of 82 islands, and with many people living in poverty, students taking part in this fieldwork opportunity have the chance to make a real difference to people. The venture works in conjunction with Vanuatan Government’s Disability Services and works with the local volunteer Disability Committee on each island.
Students taking part in the project have been profoundly affected by the experience, personally, professionally and educationally: “With theory it is hard to picture, but [when] you actually see the cases, it just solidifies everything. …Now I have the knowledge of different conditions and having a picture of those in my mind, that will be very beneficial” (ECU student). “We were like a multi-disciplinary team, which was really awesome, as we were learning from each other” (ECU student).
Through this project, Janet won the ECU Your Research in a Nutshell, took third prize in the national 5 Minute Research Pitch (5RP) in 2014 in the category of Humanities & Social Sciences: Education, Social and Behavioural Sciences.
There are possibilities for students from other disciplines to also be involved