Occupational Therapy Advisor to the Board

We are delighted to welcome Julie Hughes to our Occupational Therapy Advisor to the Board. We hope to strengthen knowledge and capacity of our future clinic with her guidance.

The role of Occupational Therapy is to assist people to participate in everyday life, the things they want to do, need to do, or are expected to do. The therapists support wellbeing of people by suggesting and implementing strategies, activity adaption, and environmental modification.

Examples of this range from fatigue management, such as energy conservation by doing tasks differently, promoting participation in self-care, productive and leisure occupations.

Occupational Therapists are also key players in NDIS as almost exclusive allied health practitioner to provide Functional Capacity Assessment. They are also emerging Primary Care providers as part of Multidisciplinary Team (MDT).

Julie is an Occupational Therapist with over 30 years of experience in clinical, academic and managerial roles. She graduated from the University of Queensland. Currently, works in Brisbane as a Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the Australian Catholic University.

Her longstanding interest in ME/CFS began in 1997 when she became the first fulltime Occupational Therapist in the Leeds Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) service (UK). She offered both individual and group Occupational Therapy interventions to people with ME/CFS.

She later completed MSc research on the topic of ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome and occupational disruption in primary care: is there a role for occupational therapy?’ (2009)

During her Occupational Therapy practice, Occupational Therapy has become a staple for the established ME/CFS services across the UK.

On her return from the UK in 2017, she discovered there was no specific Occupational Therapy service for people with ME/CFS, nor Occupational Therapist who is aware of the condition in Australia.

This prompted her to complete several small-scale research projects with her Occupational Therapy Honours Students on the topic of ME/CFS. Each of these projects have been aimed at raising the profile of ME/CFS within Australia and with Occupational Therapists specifically.

Her goal is to encourage them to better understand this population and to utilise their skill set to offer informed assessment and interventions and advocate for appropriate access to the NDIS.

The Final Honour Student Research Presentation Day on 2 November 2023.
From left to right. Alex Beevers, Nicole Roudenko, Julie Hughes, and Wendy Milgate

She is also currently involved in collaborative research with Deakin University and Western Health (VIC) looking at ways to better support people with Long Covid.

Julie and my path crossed in 2019, when I participated in the past Honour Student’s Research, Living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: Experiences of occupational disruption for adults in Australia. Since then, we stayed in touch through her private Consumer Reference Group.

Our mutual passion to bring desperately needed care for people with ME naturally formed this partnership. Together, we continue advocating for healthcare and planning for Occupational Therapy service.