I recently snuck off to Melbourne for three days to attend the National Occupational Therapy conference where I heard from some esteemed colleagues on the latest research in their area of expertise. From Brain Injury to Palliative Care to Ergonomics and Spinal Injury - the conference had it covered. Now this is an annual event, where OT's come together to celebrate the awesome work they do, connect with old and new and breathe even more inspiration into the profession we are so passionate about. 

On the opening morning of the conference, we received a 'Welcome to Country' from Mr. Ian Hunter, Elder for the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne. He talked about his family history, his people as a 'tribe' and sung a traditional aboriginal song to the beat of his lummi sticks. While I sat listening to this welcome, thinking about our heritage and this man's people.. it dawned on me, that I too, am part of a tribe. 

This year the conference boasted 1100 attendees, it's largest number yet! What a thrill it was to be in a huge conference hall with such an amazing calibre of like minded people from all over Australia and even some international guests. It was a great honour to reconnect with colleagues I previously worked with in London, studied at University with and even those who taught me at university! As I looked around the amphitheatre I realised these were my people, my colleagues, my predecessors and my ancestors. This was my Tribe! 

There was something very familiar about this large group of people, despite their unfamiliar faces. We share the same purpose, the same big OT dreams and we march to the beat of our own OT drum. In the greater scheme of things, I think we all long to be part of something bigger - to feel a sense of belonging. Whether it's your family, a sporting group, a spiritual or religious group or a bunch of professionals you associate with, it's a place you can call home. 

I think one of the best feelings is being surrounded by people who understand you, that can relate to you and that fully support your journey, whatever that may be. 

Sitting amongst my colleagues last week for a wonderful three days, I learned a few traits about my tribe:


  • We're all alike: We really are a caring bunch of health professionals who love working with people. We're passionate about what we do and want to share it with the world. Most of us are very organised and always come prepared to learn, to share and to connect.

  • We have rituals: Coffee. We ALL love coffee. I've never seen a bigger line at the coffee cart.. we also love attending the conference every year and connecting with our tribe during the breaks or organised social events (usually with coffee in hand!). 

  • We communicate well: We're talkers, plain and simple. Good luck trying to get a word in when you're sitting with a group of OT's. Social media was a hit at the conference this year too, with huge numbers on twitter and facebook, tweeting about the likes of our guest speakers and telling the world how awesome the conference was! 

  • We have a common dialect: I think it's safe to say that we talk more about toilets and showers than any other health professional! We also have some distinct OT short hand, a language not easily understood by others!

  • There's power in the tribe: We heard from Hon. Minister Helen Morton MLC; WA that OT's can change the world and I believe that as a collective, as a tribe, that anything is possible. Like Helen Keller famously said.."alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much". 

Is there a group you belong to or a bunch of people that you call your tribe? 

If you’d like to know more about the services Wise OT Solutions can provide, please don’t hesitate to  email or call us on 1800 WISE OT (1800 947 368)


Liz Brownlee

Director & Occupational Therapist


If you haven't found your tribe yet.. here's 7 tips from Lisa Rankin on just how to find them!