Traumatic brain Injury and homelessness

It is estimated that around 29% of people experiencing chronic homelessness also have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The leading causes of TBI are falls, transport accidents and assaults. It is important that frontline services working with people who are experiencing chronic homelessness know how to work with clients who may also have a TBI. Frontline services include government agencies, charities, hostels, refuges and health services. Workers from these organisations are charged with securing and sustaining accommodation solutions, promoting health, connecting clients to a community and ensuring emotional wellbeing.

Swinburne University of Technology (Victoria) was awarded a Grant to End Homelessness to undertake research into how these workers can better assist people experiencing chronic homelessness who live with a TBI. Principal Investigator, Dr Jessica Mackelprang is coordinating a survey or over 100 diverse frontline service staff across Australia to ascertain their current knowledge and training around dealing with clients with TBI.

More than 30% of respondents thus far believe they are only slightly prepared or not prepared at all to work effectively with clients who have experienced TBI. From this survey and 20 interviews with frontline workers, Dr Mackelprang and colleagues (Dr Monica Thielking and Stephanie Hartanto) will develop an online training module and factsheet to assist service workers in identifying the needs of people experiencing homelessness who have also sustained a TBI.

With a better understanding of the needs of people with TBI who are experiencing homelessness, better long-term housing solutions can be made. The project is due for completion next year.

If you provide services to individuals experiencing homelessness or are interested in participating in this study please email