National Assistance Card welcomed at 8th National Brain Injury Conference

July 19, 2022

The National Assistance Card was very visible at the 8th National Brain Injury Conference, 28–30 June, in Sydney.

The 8th National Brain Injury Conference centred around the lived experience of people with brain injury and their carers. The conference was organised by Brain Injury Australia.

The National Assistance Card was very well received at a stand staffed by Brain Injury Association of Tasmania Executive Officer Deborah Byrne and project managers Rosie Mooney, Marie-Clare Couper and Sienna Tilley during the 3-day 8th National Brain Injury Conference, 28–30 June 2022, at the University of Sydney. Some 270 people attended.

Deborah presented her talk “Achieving Better Employment Outcomes for People with Brain Injury: The ‘Who What Where When Why’ Project” on the final day. The Employ Me project focuses on ensuring people with disability who are seeking employment have control over, and are empowered to choose, what and how they want potential employers and others to know about them and/or their disability. Watch for the slides to appear soon on the Brain Injury Australia website.

Anaesthetist Bruce Powell, exercise physiologist Scott Painter and occupational therapist Nick Johnson opened the full conference with their personal experiences as both professionals and people with lived experience of brain injury.

• Bruce suffered catastrophic injuries including a severe brain injury that ended his medical career during a 2018 cycling race.

• Scott, at 17, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and later had three strokes; since 2014 he has worked and specialised in brain injury rehabilitation.

• Nick received a severe brain injury and other life-threatening injuries in a car accident at 19. As part of his recovery, he participated in the Skills to Enable People and Communities (STEPS) program of Queensland’s Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service and will complete his Occupational Therapy degree in late 2022.

• Charlotte Stocker presented on the ripple effects of her “mild” brain injury in 2018 at age 15.

• Talie Van Piper and Meaghan Arundell spoke on their experiences of concussion.

• Eva Sifis related her experience establishing By Accident, Australia’s first and only peer-initiated, -developed and -led training for her peers with brain injury.

More brain injury stories were told by

• Daniel Wallekers

• former classical pianist Claire Cooper

• para-athlete Alexandria Eves

• AFL and VFL footballer Paddy McCartin

• Tish Peiris

• peer supporter and advocate Brent Alford

• advocate, writer and speaker living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Jessica Birch

• advocate Mark Thompson

• Dominic McDonald, in recovery from acute encephalitis since 2012, and

• advocate Cynthia Burke, whose aneurysm ruptured in 2016.

Carers told their stories too.

• Veteran carer Melissa Bruce presented on a “Day in the Life of the Wife of a Husband with a Brain Injury”.

• Cheryl McDonnell spoke on her experiences as a carer and advocate for her daughter, whose aspiration is to lead an ordinary life.

Charlie Teo AM gave a keynote on hope for recovery from brain injury, with many examples from his work with patients using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at his Sydney-based clinic.

New York State–based Tim Feeney opened the final day with a keynote talk on rethinking what is meant by “good” rehabilitation. For decades, rehab has been driven by specialists and professionals who work with patients to overcome disabilities. It’s past time, Tim said, to go beyond this and have those with brain injury be the rehab and recovery drivers.

BIAT hope to be able to attend the 9th Conference in 2024 in Adelaide. NAC Cardholders and their carers are encouraged to come too! Have a think and a chat with us if you’d like to tell your story in 2024.

Apply now online for the Card!

Sienna Tilley (left) and Rosie Mooney

Deborah Byrne and Charlie Teo AM

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