Alumni Update | Issue Two 2014
Profile
Trevor Ritchie
Occupational Therapist, Novita Children’s Services
Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy)

Trevor Ritchie made history when he graduated from the University of South Australia on March 20 and became the first Indigenous occupational therapist in South Australia. Trevor is the recipient of the Irene and David Davy Scholarship for Advancement of Aboriginal Education. The scholarship, open to Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students in the final year of an undergraduate program at the University of South Australia, was established thanks to a bequest by Irene and David Davy, two South Australians whose own limited formal education never stopped them from encouraging others to follow their academic goals.
Trevor Ritchie
For Trevor, the milestone of becoming the first Indigenous occupational therapist in South Australia is his own important step forward in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“Life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is significantly shorter than non-Indigenous Australians and they experience higher rates of preventable illness such as heart disease and diabetes,” Trevor says.

“I experienced this health inequality first hand - I grew up in the country on an Aboriginal mission called Point Pearce and as a child I always had health issues.

“I chose to study occupational therapy because of my own experiences and health issues, and because the core values of occupational therapy – equity, social justice and a holistic approach to health – align with my own values.

“As the first Aboriginal occupational therapist in South Australia I have a passion to lead and support other Indigenous allied health professionals to follow in my footsteps. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of closing the gap in Aboriginal health inequality but I’m committed to playing my part.”

The Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy) graduate has already secured a position, working as an occupational therapist at Novita Children’s Services. Trevor also works part-time as a graduate project officer at UniSA, supporting a number of Indigenous student engagement activities at the University.

“As a health professional I hope I’ll be able to push for generational change through my personal interactions with Aboriginal clients, ensuring they receive the best evidenced-based care,” Trevor says.

“I want to be proactive in the development of holistic policy for Aboriginal people that takes into account the social determinants of health such as education and housing employment.

“I am also passionate about education and I hope to promote the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal students at university, and to enable more Aboriginal professional health workers in our communities.”

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