The Issues

Good quality, safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to our wellbeing and quality of life[i]. The wide range of issues associated with brain injury and the gradual, and highly variable, nature of recovery means it’s not always possible to return to live where and how you had pre-injury or illness. Challenges can then arise both in terms of capacity to independently access and retain tenancy, and the availability of appropriate alternatives.

Gaining and holding on to tenancy can be extremely challenging for someone experiencing the planning, organisational, and recall deficits which can come with brain injury[ii]. There is an increasing understanding that brain injury can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness [iii], with the socioeconomic and functional implications of brain injury making it difficult to meet obligations.

There also remains a distinct lack of brain injury-specific facilities, beds and trained staff Australia-wide, leading to long waiting lists for specialised residential settings. Aged care homes have been an inappropriate ‘catch-all’ when needs are complex, hospital discharge is hurried or housing simply isn’t available[iv], but are now being phased out in recognition of the profound impact having limited or no choice at all about where we live, or residing in inappropriate housing, has on people’s physical and mental health[v].

For Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, for whom rates of disability and homelessness are much higher, the likelihood of living in inappropriate and restrictive settings, including residential aged care, hospital or mental health facilities, is also much greater. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples with a disability experience ongoing distress without access to culturally appropriate supports to deal with significant issues including, trauma, grief and loss, physical and emotional abuse, cultural disconnection, family violence and suicide.

Our Position

Policymakers must be better informed about the short and long-term needs of people who experience brain injury and make more funding available for brain injury specific living environments and services. There is a pressing need for appropriate accommodation and support options, including those which combine disability supports, rehabilitation and health services. This would not only help mitigate the human cost of brain injury, but may also impact on the wider social costs, with stable living environments and appropriate interventions potentially helping reduce pressures on health services, criminal justice, social security etc.

For Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples impacted by brain injury and complex disability, housing must be purpose-built and culturally responsive – strengthening connection to culture. By failing to respond to needs in a culturally informed way, well-meaning service providers frequently do more harm than good.

Related Projects

Women Exiting the Corrections System

Women Exiting the Corrections System

In 2018 Synapse partnered with the NSW Department of Justice and Guthrie House, a not-for-profit transitional service for women exiting the prison system, to support women who may have a brain injury.

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Women looking to the left

Community Living Initiative - Cairns

Cairns Community Living is a safe place of belonging for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples with a disability.

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Related Services

Man playing guitar

Housing Options

Information and practical housing support options to help you or someone you support live in the home and community of their choice.

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Assessment & Planning

Practical assessments to identify how a brain injury is affecting your daily life and planning to ensure appropriate support.

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Woman sitting at table

Direct Support

Tailored personal support across aspects of daily living, enabling you or someone you support to participate in desired community, vocational and educational activities.

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Training & Education

Unique, specialised training to help you and your team better understand the needs of people impacted by brain injury.

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Support Coordination

Synapse offers culturally appropriate Support Coordination services for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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Yarn Up about the NDIS

We have resources designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to start conversations about the NDIS and provide examples of some of the types of supports and services available.

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