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Dr. Maria O'Reilly

BOccThy, MOccThy, PhD
Head of Course - Occupational Therapy
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences
(07) 4150 7704
0403 221 866 Alternative Phone
Building 1 - G.49
About Me

I am a Senior Lecturer and Head of Course in Occupational Therapy at the Bundaberg campus.  An occupational therapist with over 36 years’ experience as a clinician, educator and researcher, my passion is aged care, in particular care of people with dementia. I have worked clinically in both residential and community settings.

I have a Master’s Degree in occupational therapy research as well as a PhD; my research has covered residential care issues, care of people with dementia, care quality, rural health, respite care, and clinical teaching. My current research is in the areas of living well with dementia, meaningful occupation, sexuality, travel for people with dementia, and the establishment of “Dementia Friendly” environments.

For more information about dementia friendly air travel, please see:


Clinically I have worked as an occupational therapist in residential aged care settings, community rehabilitation, and specialist mental health for older people.  I have set up dementia programming and contributed to the education of aged care staff about how to work effectively with people with dementia.  My focus is on engagement, participation and agency.  

I spent 15 years as a research-only academic engaged in projects focusing on ageing and dementia, including five years working with the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration at Queensland University of Technology.

Universities Studied At

The University of Queensland, St Lucia (Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, Master of Occupational Therapy)

Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove (Doctor of Philosophy)

Universities Worked At

University of Queensland

Queensland University of Technology


NNIDR DCRC. Capacity Building in Care Research (CBCR) Fellowship, 2019-2021 

CQUniversity Opal Awards. Finalist: Engaged Education and Training; as part of the “Science Rocks” team, November 2017.

QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Performance Award. Team award for the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre/ Dementia Training Studies Centre team in the School of Nursing, QUT. Awarded November 2011.

QUT Faculty of Health, Executive Dean’s Commendation Award. For PhD thesis entitled “Clinical indicators of quality for Australian residential aged care facilities: Establishing reliability, validity, and quality thresholds”. Awarded May 2011.

COTA Over 50s Postgraduate Research Award. Paper entitled “Clinical outcomes in residential care: Setting benchmarks for quality”. Presented at the Emerging Researchers in Ageing Master Class, Feb 2009.

Media Citations

"Allied health experts advocate for accessible tourism" CQUni News, 4 November, 2022; 

"Opening the door to leisure travel for people living with dementia" CQUni News, 22 October 2021;

"Let’s talk about sex: Occupational therapists just need ‘to do it’" CQUni News, 25 February 2021;

"Covid 19 Special"
Alzheimer’s Speaks Radio, 30 May 2020;

“The emergence of dementia-friendly holidays” (featuring interview with Dr Maria O’Reilly)
Health Times, Haley Williams, 23 Oct 2018

“Navigating the joys and stresses of travel while living with dementia”.
Radio National, Life Matters, 7 Aug 2017

“Researchers hope to cure fear of flying”
Channel 7 News, Brisbane, 21 May 2016

“Airlines unprepared for increasing number of travellers with dementia.”
Radio National, Breakfast (Early), James Carleton 23 Jun 2015 6:43 AM

Professional Memberships

Registered Occupational Therapist: Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency


Australian Association of Gerontology,

OT Australia (member, Aged Care National Reference Group)

International Dementia Scholars' Collaborative

International Dementia Travel (I-D-Air Travel) Collaborative

Dementia Friendly Airports Working Group (USA)

Key Achievements

Facilitated endorsement of Brisbane Airport as Australia's first "Dementia Friendly" Airport.

Recent Research Projects
Patient and health professional perspectives on the benefits, barriers and facilitators of beach access for individuals with mobility limitations
From: 01/12/2021 to 31/07/2023
Grant: Competitive Grant (Category 3: Industry and Other)
Funding Scheme: PRF 2021 Seeding Grants
Total Funding: $10,000.00
The road less travelled.  Opening the door to the leisure travel experience for people living with dementia
From: 31/03/2020 to 31/12/2021
Grant: Competitive Grant (Category 1: Aust Competitive Grant)
Funding Scheme: Dementia Grants Program Round 1 2019 - Dementia Australia Research Foundation
Total Funding: $50,000.00
Interprofessional Education: An authentic online learning experience
From: 11/02/2020 to 02/09/2021
Grant: Scholarly project (Internal L&T Grant)
Funding Scheme: CQU internal Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Grants 2019
Total Funding: $8,510.00
APP1137749 - Implementing the Tailored Activity Program for people with dementia and their family living at home: i-TAP (Australia)
From: 01/09/2017 to 31/12/2022
Grant: Competitive Grant (Category 1: Aust Competitive Grant)
Funding Scheme: NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grants
Total Funding: $1,298,072.15
Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science
  • 4203 Health services and systems
  • 3202 Clinical Sciences
  • 3508 Tourism

At the level of Principal Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently available to supervise more research candidates
Current Supervision
Doctor of Philosophy
Does spirituality matter in the resilience of our emerging allied health professionals? Insights to inform future resilience curricula.
Principal Supervisor
Doctor of Philosophy
Exploring the experiences of role transitions (particularly employment) for persons experiencing mild cognitive impairment/younger onset dementia
Principal Supervisor
Research Interests
Medical And Health Sciences

Other Medical and Health Sciences - Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
Occupational Therapy; dementia care

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