Brain Injury Australia ‘On the Stump’

(Nick Rushworth with Professor Gary Browne)

Over the last couple of months, Brain Injury Australia’s Executive Officer, Nick Rushworth, has been putting the case for better services and supports for people with a brain injury to: the School Nurses’ Association Conference in Sydney; an Akolade ‘NDIS Business Transformation Strategy’ conference in Sydney; and a Disability Employment Australia “National Leaders’ Forum” in Melbourne.

At the School Nurses’ Association Conference on September 28th, Nick hosted a session on sports concussion with Professor Gary Browne, a Senior Physician in Sports and Exercise Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Westmead, where he’s also been Director of the Hospital’s Sports Concussion Service since 2006. “…As both a reformed helicopter parent of would-be free-range children and as a disability advocate…in an era of creeping inactivity…I feel obliged to counter the trend to ‘cottonwoolling’ children; to drive home, what, both a responsible and a realist message; that concussion – whether inside or outside of sport – is one of the…ordinary hazards of the life of the physical, and that 80 to 90 per cent of concussions result in an uneventful recovery within 10-14 days of injury. The 10 to 20 per cent of event-ful recoveries…notwithstanding, the former journalist deep down inside where I live also tells me that perception is everything. And today’s typical parent will be swiftly unforgiving of any sport as soon as she – or he – suspects it’s playing chicken with their child’s brain…” Download Nick’s presentation here.

At the Akolade ‘NDIS Business Transformation Strategy’ held on 22nd November, Nick appeared on a panel addressing “thought leadership…looking to the future of the NDIS rollout” (alongside Jenni Cole, the Chief Executive Officer of Disability Sports Australia and Russell Nelson, Chief Operating Officer for Headway Wings ABI): “…Brain Injury Australia’s fundamental reservations about the Scheme remain unchanged since the bill for its establishment was drafted. That, while some people with a brain injury will be able to navigate the new quasi-market of the Scheme as easily as the disability services system of old, many will not. Specifically, Brain Injury Australia suspects that few people with a brain injury who meet the “disability requirements” of the Scheme are going to be able to readily transform themselves from the passive customers of disability services of tradition into active retailers of their funding. Without an enabling infrastructure to do so. That infrastructure still isn’t in place…” Download Nick’s presentation here.

Disability Employment Australia is the “preeminent organisation representing, supporting and resourcing the disability employment sector throughout Australia”. Nick was asked to address their 23 November annual “National Leaders’ Forum” on the subject of “How Disability Employment Services can go deeper into the community to work with people with acquired brain injury”: “…in the interests of full disclosure, I didn’t pick the title for my presentation either: ‘How DES can go deeper into the community to work with people with acquired brain injury’. Rick [Kane, CEO of Disability Employment Australia] did. But I…get it. The details of DES contracts have always made my head spin. But the sense I get is that “going deeper” – rather than, say,…skimming the cream – might become more commercially? attractive – with, for example, Risk-adjusted Outcomes Payments. Indeed, that clients with a brain injury – who I sense have been seen as “high cost, low return” – that clients with a brain injury might get their fair share of favour in the new contract. So, I wouldn’t be earning my keep if I didn’t seize this opportunity to put in a pitch, with you, for those clients whose numbers in the DES have sat miserably, for as long as I can remember, barely north of 1 per cent…” Download Nick’s address here.

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