Our Story

Listen to Dr Sheila Purves introducing the RL model to health students in a live evaluation session, China.


Reality Learning emerged from a need to deliver healthcare training to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander (ATSI) communities in rural and remote Queensland in 2000.

With limited resources and a need to shift attitudes of community leaders, Reality Learning Director, Judith Hewitson, worked with the Independent Living Centre to develop online scenario-based training.

Applying her documentary filmmaking skills to engage with ATSI communities in far North Queensland, she worked collaboratively to script, shoot and produce a feature film created with webisodes, of an indigenous character living with a newly acquired disability.

The story unfolded in real time with indigenous participants responding to the challenges the character and his family faced. Over a six month period of community participants sharing their concerns, advice and support for the character via email, video conferencing and webcams, new local solutions were identified and implemented in real life. 

Locally relevant and emotionally charged engagement resulted in exceptional levels of participation. It not only spurred greater interest among community leaders in allied healthcare, it also built wider understanding of the challenges people with disability face, and the capacity of services available to address these. 

From this prototype grew more complex models of integrating character and narrative based learning with the evolving practice of e-learning, now coined Reality Learning Interactives®.  These include narrative driven online quizzes, learning resources and participant activity. 

Judith continued to develop these programs to train ATSI healthcare professionals and high schools students, and from there assisted aid agencies to rapidly train personnel in international disaster response and management.

Clients and partners expanded to include World Vision International, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, RMIT, Nanjing University, major hospitals such as the St Vincents and Queensland Government.

In China today, Reality Learning has partnered with local rehabilitation providers producing programs used in 2,500 hospitals and universities. 

The outcome
  • We move with rapidly changing technology and as such our training solutions are developed to be future-safe, with virtual reality and augmented reality already being incorporated in design.
  • We are well practiced in working with diversity: of clients, learning goals, end users and contexts.
  • We produce long-lasting media that communicates and resonates with end-users.

I would venture to say that you are uniquely positioned as most likely the only Occupational Therapist in the world with a degree in film making and can make this website training come alive and dramatically effect the sensitivity of occupational therapists and other health professionals!

Emily Haltiwanger, OTR, OTD, MHE.