Cockburn Gazette - - OPINION -

IT is lit­tle known that brain in­jury is one of the lead­ing causes of dis­abil­ity in Aus­tralia, with one in 12 peo­ple lwith ac­quired brain in­juries.

Vi­o­lence is one of the main causes of brain in­jury in WA. While men dom­i­nate the sta­tis­tics, ac­count­ing for 75 per cent of peo­ple di­ag­nosed with a brain in­jury, many women also suf­fer brain in­juries from fam­ily or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

In the lead-up to Brain In­jury Aware­ness Week (Au­gust 17-24), brain in­jury caused by fam­ily vi­o­lence is an is­sue that needs com­mu­nity at­ten­tion.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests many women in phys­i­cally abu­sive re­la­tion­ships are at risk of suf­fer­ing brain in­juries. Sta­tis­ti­cally, one third of women who are vic­tims of fam­ily vi­o­lence will sus­tain head trauma.

How­ever, in many cases, women are not even aware that they may have sus­tained a brain in­jury.

Their im­me­di­ate con­cern is on the vis­i­ble signs of the abuse and many do not re­alise that poor short-term mem­ory, ir­ri­tabil­ity or de­pres­sion may be a sign of brain in­jury.

Due to the na­ture of on­go­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, over time re­peated brain in­juries can lead to a range of in­creased cog­ni­tive, phys­i­cal and emo­tional dis­abil­i­ties, or per­son­al­ity or be­havioural changes.

Peo­ple with brain in­juries are more likely to be es­tranged from friends and fam­ily, in­creas­ing so­cial iso­la­tion and vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

They are also more at risk of be­ing un­em­ployed, home­less or in­volved with the jus­tice sys­tem.

Early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices aimed at re­duc­ing vi­o­lence and sup­port­ing in­di­vid­u­als who ex­pe­ri­ence fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence are crit­i­cal.

In the present cli­mate, where cuts to gov­ern­ment fund­ing for com­mu­nity ser­vices seem to be the norm, vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple are even more at risk.

With each cut, there is a greater sub­se­quent cost for the com­mu­nity in sup­port­ing peo­ple with a brain in­jury.

Surely, preven­tion is best.

I EX­PRESS my sin­cere thanks and grat­i­tude to West Aus­tralians for their tremen­dous sup­port of The Smith Fam­ily’s 2015 Win­ter Ap­peal. The char­ity launched its ap­peal on May 20 to raise $3.5 mil­lion by June 30, for the on­go­ing sup­port of thou­sands of...

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