Dr Emma Crawford

Lecturer in Occupational Therapy

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
+61 7 336 54526


Dr Emma Crawford is an occupational therapist and researcher who works in the fields of infant-mother care, asylum seekers' mental wellbeing (with adults and children) and in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations. She has a strong interest in understanding human experiences, community-driven initiatives, and strengths-based, innovative, evidence based, complex approaches to wellbeing that consider individuals and systems She also carries out research regarding allied health student placements in culturally diverse settings including developing countries and Indigenous contexts. She works as a Lecturer at the University of Queensland, Australia after having worked in a range of occupational therapy roles including with children with autism, with asylum seekers, with Indigenous Australians with chronic disease and completing her PhD in Political Science and International Studies in 2015.

Research Interests

  • Partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations
    Emma carries out research (qualitative and quantitative) with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health and the Aboriginal and Islander Independent Community School (The Murri School).
  • Infant and Caregiver Care
    Emma is engaged research regarding responsive infant care, caregiver/maternal and infant occupations and infant and caregiver health and mental wellbeing. She has a particular interest in Neuroprotective Developmental Care (NDC), (focusing on unsettled infant behaviour, infant health, mothers' mental health, breastfeeding and bottle feeding, infant everyday sensory experiences, and infant and mother sleep). Her research also focuses on infant and caregiver occupations and co-occupations including sleep, feeding, regulation, interaction and play, social activities, family routines, and community engagement.
  • Human Rights and Occupational Therapy
    Emma conducts research in both occupational therapy (OT) human rights practice and OT education regarding human rights.
  • Asylum Seekers and Refugees
    Emma's research with asylum seekers considers the effects of citizenship and policy structures on asylum seekers every-day life experiences. She also conducts research regarding occupational therapy services provided to children seeking asylum in Australia. This research is qualitative. Her previous research with refugees focused on home safety for newly arrived refugees in Australia. Emma is currently carrying out early-stage research regarding the experiences and service needs for refugee and asylum seeker families during pregnancy and the early years (the peri-natal period) with the view to engaging in service co-design and evaluative research.

Research Impacts

Community organisation partnerships: translation of research and university teaching into practice through student-run projects in partnership with community organizations (the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Independent School, and Institute for Urban Indigenous Health).

Not-for-profit organisation partnerships: translational research partnership with the Possums Clinic in order to evaluate service delivery, use research for quality assurance purposes, publish implementation science research, and develop evidence based resources for practice.

Government organisation partnerships: partnering with the The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (Children's Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service) to evaluate cultural responsiveness in the Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) Department. Implementation and evaluation of training regarding cultural responsiveness is currently being delivered for SLP staff and interpreters to improve service delivery for culturally and linguistically diverese clients.

Mentoring for and delivery of an occupational therapy program for children in detention (OT KiDS) - stemming from research findings, teaching, and networks developed through research projects (2012-2016)

Leading an evaluation project contributing to the Australian Human Rights Commission's National Inquiry into Children in Detention (2014).

Research with asylum seekers may be useful for informing future evidence based policy.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Occupational Therapy Studies, The University of Queensland


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Book Chapter

  • Aplin, Tammy, Crawford, Emma and De Jonge, Desleigh (2021). Fundamentals of occupational therapy: understanding the environment. Occupational therapy in Australia: professional and practice issues. (pp. 229-243) edited by Ted Brown, Helen M. Bourke-Taylor, Stephen Isbel, Reinie Cordier and Louise Gustafsson. Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor