Brain Injury SA’s Advocacy Service works to provide a voice for people living with acquired brain injury at times when they need help and support and may not be able to speak up for themselves.
The program supports people of all ages with acquired brain injury (ABI) to address issues impacting on their wellbeing.
Common issues faced by our participants included:
- Difficulty with navigating complex service systems such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Centrelink, courts and public housing
- Lack of knowledge regarding their rights or entitlements to services or payments
- Lack of understanding from mainstream services when engaging with people who have cognitive disabilities.
Our Advocates work closely with clients seeking to understand their concerns and negotiate a positive resolution to the presenting issue. We also strive to develop positive relationships with services to facilitate the achievement of successful outcomes and by providing education on ABI and insight into the experiences of our client group. Our aim is to promote a community where ABI is not a barrier.
We are strong promoters of self-advocacy, providing information and support for people to successfully resolve their own matters where possible. Knowing the correct process for addressing complaints and concerns is vital. Being a sounding board to discuss next steps and assisting people to draft letters and emails and to gather relevant evidence is also key. Many people with ABI appreciate having an advocate attend important meetings, video conference and phone calls to provide guidance, encouragement and moral support. Our role is to ensure the client’s voice is heard.
There continues to be a number of common issues impacting on the lives of the people accessing our Advocacy service.
There is a severe shortage of safe, affordable housing options in South Australia. Even when we successfully advocate for the most urgent category of housing in the public housing market, the waiting times are lengthy. Securing private rental proves to be a huge challenge with massive levels of competition for every available property. Low income, lack of references and unstable rental histories prove to be a barrier for many people seeking support for housing.
Many people experience frustration and stress related to their Centrelink payments. The impact of ABI can make it difficult to maintain employment or satisfy mutual obligations with Centrelink. Applying for a disability support pension is a complex process and can be difficult to navigate without support to complete forms and seek the specific evidence that is required. We have assisted people with the process of accessing medical evidence and also to appeal Centrelink decisions.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The process of applying to NDIS can also present challenges for people with ABI particularly if it is not a recent injury and evidence needs to be sourced through Freedom of Information from hospitals and medical centres. The need for recent assessments and reports can also be a barrier for those who are not engaged with GP’s, specialists and allied health professionals and lack the financial resources to pay for these.
Demand for the Advocacy Service is always high and at times we have had to close the waiting list and prioritise the most urgent referrals. We are always happy to provide phone advice to point people in the right direction if we are not able to allocate a referral immediately.