A new financial year is upon us, remembering membership renewal is due. It has been another whirlwind of a year, and hard to imagine we are moving into the second half of 2022. The board has been moving full steam ahead incorporating your ideas and feedback into robust discussions and decision making to support our membership.
There have been some fruitful discussions at the three recent Town Hall meetings about the changes the board is proposing to move our profession forward. We developed a survey seeking individual members views on titles to encompass the profession. Those using ‘therapist’ in the title will need to have degree membership in DTRA. We are currently working with solicitors in the development of these changes in the constitution. Another change required in the constitution is the association’s name.
When the constitution as written in 2009 it was relevant to the time. The title of the association was Diversional Therapy Australia. Whilst we are updating other elements of the constitution and in light of the feedback we have received from a professional perspective, one title is required to strengthen our professional stature and to align with other professions. The board has discussed a number of titles for the association, but the general consensus reached by the board is the Australian Recreation Therapy Association. This would give us the acronym of ARTA which still differentiates between the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) and us but removes ‘Diversional’ in the title of the association.
This does not take away from the profession, but it is more so to have one clear title for the profession as every other allied health profession does. Historically the roots of our profession are in Diversional Therapy. Repatriation hospitals during WW2 assessed returning soldiers on the type of therapy required. If a soldier had one specific need to target, they were referred to occupational therapy. Diversional therapy was prescribed if there was more than one specific target for treatment (Anderson & Bell 1988).
A number of people feel very conflicted about removing ‘Diversional’ from the association’s name. Many members also have a Bachelor of Applied Science or Health Science in Diversional Therapy. Removing ‘Diversional’ does not take away from the profession, however it does show a more united profession with one title moving forward. Our history has still come from Diversional Therapy and that does not change. But having a title that is literally and figuratively explained can help identify to consumers, organisations and the general public what perhaps we do a little more articulately.
These changes are currently being finalised with the solicitors and will then be voted on by the membership. If members vote ‘no’ to the changes, we are no worse off than where we are currently. If the membership vote ‘yes’ to the changes this will enable the profession to be a recognised national allied health profession, giving us traction with national health agendas. Further information will follow in the middle of July when we anticipate the new constitution will be ready to be voted on.
Don’t forget to also incorporate NAIDOC Week into your lives from July 3-10. This year’s theme ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’ is a call for action. It is about systemic change. This impactful theme is about the desire to change the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non Indigenous Australians to one that is “based on justice, equity, and the proper recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights”. Some great resources can be found at https://www.naidoc.org.au/