Helen Whait completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy (OT) from the University of South Australia at the end of 1992.
Helen has had a successful 30-year career in occupational therapy – working in a broad variety of settings.
Helen is passionate about occupational therapy and is a strong advocate for the profession and for occupational therapists.
In 2012 Helen became the first occupational therapist in Australia to franchise a private practice. In doing so she has challenged the status quo of OT service delivery while empowering other therapists to benefit from her experience and resources by building their own thriving practices.
Since founding ActivOT as a franchise, more than 50 allied health professionals, including occupational therapists, therapy assistants and physiotherapists have made the transition from employees to successful private practitioners.
Helen Whait has been nominated for, been named finalist and won several awards, including:
- Finalist, Telstra Business Women’s Awards (SA) n the entrepreneurship category 2016
- Winner, OT Australia SA Williams OT Innovative Service Delivery Award 2016
- Finalist, SA Community Achievement Awards 2020
- Winner, SA Woman Awards Innovation category 2020
- Finalist, Allied Health Awards Excellence in Leadership and Management in the Allied Health Awards in 2021 and 2022
- Finalist, Allied Health Awards OT of the Year 2022
- Bronze Winner, Ausmumpreneur Awards, Health Services category 2022
- Winner, Women in Innovation Awards, open category award 2022
- Winner Freedom Awards community category 2022
- Finalist, Franchise Council of Australia Awards for Excellence, Innovation Category 2022
- Bronze Winner, Women Changing the World Awards, Innovation Category 2023
- Finalist, Women Changing the World Awards, Woman In Health and Leader of the Year 2023
- Bronze Winner, Ausmumpreneur Awards, Service Business Category 2023
- Finalist, Women’s Agenda Awards, Small Business Leader of the Year Category 2023
In 2022, Helen Whait has also been profiled in a number of publications. These include:
Helen Whait is an active member of Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) and is the South Australian representative on the Occupational Therapy Australia, Department of Veteran Affairs National Reference Group. Through these roles Helen aims to have a positive impact on government policy development.
Being involved at the grass roots level of occupational therapy service provision, Helen is able to provide insight into government programs and how they work for clients (or fail, as the case may be). She’s written and contributed to numerous submissions and discussion papers as well as policy statements, particularly in relation to veteran care. In supporting OT Australia, Helen the ActivOT team are able to achieve much better outcomes for both occupational therapists and their clients.
Helen is an outspoken and respected advocate for occupational therapy as a profession. Through her involvement with OTA, Helen has been an invited speaker at their inaugural private practice symposium held in 2018. Helen describes her experience as guest speaker as “an honour and a privilege to be able to address my industry peers and to discuss the unique business model I’ve developed to help OTs succeed in private practice while maintaining very high standards of service provision and remaining client centred”.
Helen and the ActivOT team diligently work together on innovative ways of improving the way occupational therapy is practiced. In doing so, their approach includes:
- actively seeking and building new relationships within our communities and industry
- shaping the future of occupational therapy through participation in university projects including membership on the Adelaide University Advisory Board.
- supporting emerging therapists through participating in student projects at the University of South Australia, Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Brisbane and University of The Sunshine Coast (USC). Helen has also provided research support to the rural and remote research team at Sydney University with respect to the use of allied health assistants
- establishing research consultancies with University of New South Wales and Sydney University, with an initial review of the sustainability and success of therapy assistant services in the franchise model
- undertaking leadership coaching (the Lead ID program with The Edge PR) as part of an ongoing commitment to professional development and building leadership at all levels of the business
- expanding our online presence to include Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and reworking our website with a focus on accessibility and ease of use for clients
- seeking new technical solutions for overcoming barriers communication within the team, with our communities and with our clients, including the introduction of online meetings and telehealth services
- adapting the ways we practice occupational therapy in alignment with the health needs of our team and clients, such as introducing Covid-19 measures including telehealth, PPE and risk assessment procedures and additional training for all team members.
Helen has continued to build her outstanding business which is supporting occupational therapists in new ways to practice according to their core values as therapists and to deliver outstanding results. The therapists themselves speak highly of Helen and her leadership and stewardship.
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PO Box 373, Walkerville SA 5081
M: 0404 497 965
F: 08 8344 1559