breakthru knows firsthand the hardships that people can face after acquiring a brain injury. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 700,000 Australians have a brain injury, with daily “activity limitations” and “participation restrictions”. Three in every four of these people are aged 65 or under. This means many are working age; however, they face many barriers to employment.
“Return to work rates are relatively low and many who return to work are not able to sustain their job over time due to inadequate support. Without support, a substantial proportion are either not able to return to their former work or unable to return permanently” breakthru Ambassador, Ross Lewis.
In 1995, breakthru saw this as a significant need in Australia and was successful in obtaining funding as Australia’s first specialist employment service for people with a brain injury. Since then, breakthru has built the capacity of the whole organisation to be able to provide employment services to people with a brain injury and also assist the whole sector through specialist training and mentoring.
While the unemployment rate for people following a traumatic brain injury persists at around 70%, more than 10 times the national unemployment rate, we are hopeful in the options available through vocational services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Joanne M. is a great example of how employment can positively affect people with acquired brain injury. She acquired a brain injury after being hit by a drunk driver in 2005. Joanne joined breakthru as a Consumer Research Project Assistant. She was part of the research team running a pilot project to help people with mental health issues gain employment and increase community involvement through a strengths-based tool. Not only did she feel that she had been “part of that process of changing lives” she states “being part of this research has changed my life, too.”