Spotlight on Sydney Occupational Therapy professor: from Canada to Australia

18 August 2014

Michelle Villeneuve, PhD (Education), MSc (Rehab Science), BSc (OT)
Michelle joined the Sydney Occupational Therapy School in July 2013. Michelle came to Sydney from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She moved to Australia with her daughter, narrowly escaping the longest and coldest winter that Canadians have experienced in decades. Needless to say, Michelle and Ella are enjoying the climate and the out-of-doors lifestyle that Sydney offers.

Sydney Occupational Therapy School
Study OT at the University of Sydney

What is your current role?
I am a Lecturer on the Master of Occupational Therapy and the undergraduate Occupational Therapy programs. I teach into the community development units, program evaluation, and clinical and professional reasoning. I conduct research on collaborating for inclusion of young children with developmental delays and disabilities at school and in the community. I am also involved in disability inclusive development projects internationally.
My first job was…
I put myself through uni by working as a residential support staff caring for youth with dual diagnosis in a group home setting (Canada). When I graduated from the University of Toronto as an occupational therapist, I continued to focus on young children with developmental delays and disabilities, providing services in a range of community settings including rural communities, mid-sized cities, and major metropolitan centres. A big part of my journey as an occupational therapist has involved community development roles in Canada and international contexts. These roles have emphasized disability inclusive development and community based rehabilitation. I have travelled through these roles first as a practicing therapist, then as an educator, and more recently as a researcher.
My biggest achievement so far…
…is, without a doubt, my daughter! Observing her transition from Canada to Australia with grace and poise makes me feel terrific about our decision to migrate to Australia. Professionally, I’m pleased with my contributions to the introduction of occupational therapy in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war and continued development of OT in that country through the work of my students.
I work at the University because…
My vision is to support inclusion of young children with developmental delays and disabilities in home, schools, and community contexts. I am dedicated to
supporting occupational therapy students to develop their competencies for collaborative practice using effective methods for cross-sector service coordination and interprofessional collaboration—which always includes families as key members of the team.

This article was originally published in the University of Sydney’s Discipline of Occupational Therapy Newsletter.

University of Sydney’s Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

Program: Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Location: Lidcombe, (suburb of Sydney), New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: October 1, 2014
The University of Sydney offers a two-year, graduate-entry Master of Occupational Therapy program. It is intended for students coming from an undergraduate degree in any field who wish to gain the requirements to become an occupational therapist. As the course leads to eligibility to practice, students will be assisted in achieving prescribed professional competencies through practical and theoretical skill acquisition and clinical fieldwork placements. Clinical placements are undertaken in both the public and private sectors. Students will have the opportunity to develop an understanding of the career path they have chosen, and its place in contemporary health.

Apply to the University of Sydney Occupational Therapy School!


Do you have any questions about occupational therapy programs in Australia? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Occupational Therapy Schools Admissions Officer Sarah Bridson at, or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.