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Building connections in Victoria’s rural communities

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Building connections in Victoria’s rural communities

Gemma Lehmann

Gemma Lehmann is an occupational therapist who recently graduated from La Trobe University. Upon graduating, she sought out the services of Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) and was recruited to Function Therapy Allied Health Services in the regional town of Horsham.

In deciding which pathway to choose, Gemma saysI chose Function Therapy as there was an opportunity to see a vast range of clients that I potentially wouldn’t get to work with in a hospital position.”

In recounting the RWAV recruitment process, Gemma found it to be smooth and organised. “I would recommend utilising RWAV for job searching as they help you the whole way through and make sure that you are ready for the position you’re applying for” said Gemma.

“I was in contact with the RWAV recruitment consultant every step of the way and she kept me updated which was really helpful.”

Gemma also received an RWAV relocation grant to assist her with the move from Bendigo to Horsham. This was an expense that otherwise would have been difficult for her to make after four years of studying and working only part-time.

As an OT in the community, Gemma has had the opportunity to work in different specialties of occupational therapy such as: paediatrics, aged care facilities, adult physical disability, adult and child mental health, supportive living accommodations, hand therapy, and working within the NDIS, TAC, DVA, home care packages, and self-funded individuals. She is grateful to experience the breadth of responsibilities which she wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to as a graduate OT.  

Along with this invaluable experience, she credits working with a team of supportive allied health professionals as a highly rewarding aspect of her job. Gemma says, “The team I work with are very close and they are supportive which I think in a larger workforce, you might not be able to develop such strong work relationships. In the office, I have my boss, who is also my mentor, and director of the clinic next to me, meaning I have my key supporter available to talk to and discuss at any time. It’s definitely something I value, especially as a new graduate.”

From Gemma’s perspective and the number of OT vacancies listed with RWAV, there is an ongoing need for OTs to work in rural communities. With the diverse range of lifestyles and conditions that she sees in her clients, having health professionals in local areas means that there is a reduced wait time, and clients do not need to travel long distances to get the required assistance. This can be anything from “wanting to be more mobile around the house, learning how to write, assisting with routine tasks to achieve daily goals, improving emotional regulation and behaviours, and the list can go on.”

Gemma has recently taken up the opportunity to apply for a RWAV CPD for Allied Health Grant. She says, “Living rurally sometimes makes it difficult to access CPD courses – putting pressure on health workers who must fulfil many professional development hours per year in order to maintain registration. Having access to this grant meant I could afford to travel and attend relevant courses, and learn more that would assist with my practice and develop me to become a better OT.”

RWAV has opened so many doors that I didn’t think were possible. I am working in a job that I love, helping people in my community, and attending courses that wouldn’t be possible without them. It has definitely been worthwhile working with them.”

Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) creates sustainable health workforce models that support Victoria’s rural, regional and Aboriginal communities. We draw on trusted relationships, smart data and best practice to establish models that are capable, connected and tailored to the communities they serve.

RWAV supports health professionals at every level of their career. If you are seeking a position within regional and rural Victoria, contact RWAV’s recruitment service on 03 9349 7800 or email screeningahn@rwav.com.au. For a list of the current OT vacancies visit https://www.rwav.com.au/vacancies/health.

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