Self Advocacy and the ABI Community:
Acquired brain injury (ABI) can present in many different ways in people. Injuries sustained include; memory loss – short term, long term or both, – chronic pain, permanent physical disabilities, difficulty in emotional regulation, sensory difficulties, challenges in regulating balance, fatigue and vision impairment. Injuries can isolate people and therefore people experience loneliness and mental health issues.
Self Advocacy is important for people living with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) because:
- ABI is quite often an invisible disability and therefore, a large proportion of the general population is unaware of the impact it has on people’s lives. The broad nature of ABI creates a need for self-advocates to educate the public.
- Australian decision makers need to be lobbied to ensure good and just decisions are made for people with disabilities. Advocacy needs to happen across all areas of society including government, medical facilities, disability services and other organisations, so good processes are in place to support people with ABIs to live abundant lives.
- We believe that embracing the uniqueness of individuals with ABI and celebrating people’s strengths is important.
- As a collective, people with an ABI need to speak up about their practical needs, and get them met, so they can take part in their local communities. This will radically reduce the very real issue of social isolation for people with ABIs.
Self Advocacy can also teach people to:
- Have the confidence in themselves and believe that they can make a difference
- Communicate effectively, and educate others, in expressing what they need/want
- Learn how to manage their ABI and be able to identify new/changed/changing needs
- Learn how to break down issues and reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed or stressed
- Learn how to say NO, as it can be very easy to take on too much
- Be supportive and encouraging of other self-advocates
- Become active in the local community and tell their stories to reduce the stigma around ABI
- Join organisations such as BIM and take part in awareness raising activities and events
Brian Injury Matters
Brain Injury Matters (BIM) is a self-advocacy and community education organisation run by and for people with an acquired brain injury (ABI). Self Advocacy is when people speak up to remove the barriers that stop themselves and others, from living abundant lives.
For over 20 years, BIM has been a collective of people with acquired brain injuries, that have come together to advocate for a different world, share experiences and raise awareness of ABI within the broader community.
BIM is the only self advocacy group in Australia run by and for people with an ABI
BIM has as its principal objectives:
- Using the self-advocacy framework to give a voice to people with acquired brain injury so they can inform local, state and national bodies about relevant issues and advocate for change
- To manage an organisation that is effectively run by and for people with an ABI
- Through community education, raise awareness about the effects of ABI
- To bring committed individuals to work on projects together that will either educate or bring about other changes in our society
- Provide avenues to alleviate the isolation and marginalisation experienced by people living with ABI.
BIM aims to use the Self Advocacy model to improve the lives of all who have an ABI.