World Occupational Therapy Day – 27 October, 2017
Meet MDA’s occupational therapists, (L-R) Leah Percival (Senior Manager), Aakifah Suleman (Student Placement and Research), and Madalyn Uebergang (Case Manager).
We asked them why they chose a career in refugee settlement. Here’s what they had to say.
Throughout my lifetime I have revelled in the challenge of pushing the boundaries and working outside the box… so naturally a career in OT was for me! As is my career at MDA, and the ability to be working in the field of settlement which is not a ‘traditional’ area of OT practice. I am excited to promote OT in this industry and share this emerging area of practice with my colleagues, networks and student OT placements! I have an immense amount of job satisfaction almost every day, I leave work knowing I have made a significant difference in someone’s life. I know this because people are often emotional about their progress and frequently tell me how happy they are that they came to Australia and that I was part of their settlement journey. The potential for OTs in this area of work is immense…. We are part of meaningful occupation, social participation, practical support and the ultimate: doing…being…belonging… Isn’t this what occupational therapy is all about? – Leah
I was first drawn to settlement work as a final year OT student, looking for opportunities that were both meaningful to me and also pretty unique. I think it’s safe to say after 9 years in refugee settlement I’ve found that! Working in this sector has exposed me to learnings and opportunities to grow as a person; opportunities that I would not have had in other types of work. It has opened my mind but also humbled me. What a unique set of skills we have as OTs, to be able to support positive settlement journeys for people who have overcome the most difficult of barriers to reach safety in Australia. What a unique way of thinking we have, to consider contexts beyond the person and environment! At risk of sounding way nerdier than I actually am, occupational science has equipped us with a way of understanding issues of forced migration in a completely new way. This is why I do what I do – how can one pass up an opportunity to make real differences in people’s lives using theories and concepts that, historically, have not been traditionally considered in this sector. I think that’s pretty exciting! – Aakifah
I love people – this is why I do what I do. Connecting with and sharing in the life journey of a diverse range of people is a joy. Being able to support people to do the things that are meaningful and important to them is the reason why I work in the humanitarian program at MDA. I have a passion and heart for individuals and families from a refugee background, and am thankful for the opportunity to work alongside refugees to support them to settle within the local Australian community. I enjoy being able to encourage individuals, nurture skill development and foster social connections to create welcome for refugees. – Madalyn