Homelessness and Brain Injury

Homeless man

Fact Sheet: The Connection Between Acquired Brain Injury and Homelessness

  • “An acquired brain injury can exacerbate and magnify the risk factors associated with homelessness including family breakdown, loss of social support networks, lack of affordable housing, family violence, unemployment, illness, drug and alcohol use, violence and/or criminal behaviour.”


Fact Sheet: Statistics: Acquired Brain Injury and Homelessness

  • “Anecdotal evidence from within the homelessness..sector as well as empirical research in the criminality field points to the fact that the disabilities arising from Acquired Brain Injury are often either overlooked and/or included under the category of ‘psychiatric or mental illness’ or ‘intellectual disability’. Both clinical and non-clinical workers often assume that the presence of a ‘traditional’ functional disorder is evidence of a mental or psychiatric illness.”


  • People who have both brain injury and mental illness, alcohol and other substance abuse problems, or people leaving prisons or juvenile justice institutions with a brain injury, are at the greatest risk of homelessness.
  • A person with brain injury has a four-in-five likelihood of developing a diagnosable mental illness.
  • Almost 30% of Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) service users have experienced an intensive mental health problem.
  • People with a brain injury could make up to one-third of the 75% of homeless adults in Australia with a mental health problem.

Submission to The Australian Government’s Green Paper, “Which Way Home? A New Approach to Homelessness”

  • “The overarching point of Brain Injury Australia’s submission to the Australian Government’s Green Paper “Which Way Home? A New Approach to Homelessness” is to demonstrate that most of the population subgroups that comprise the homeless – people with a mental illness, people with alcohol and other substance abuse problems, people leaving (or at risk of re-entering) prisons or juvenile justice institutions, people fleeing domestic violence etc. – are absolutely commensurate with the constituent populations of Australians with an ABI.”


Homelessness White Paper – “The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness” (2008)

  • “Homelessness is not just the result of too few houses – its causes are many and varied. Domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to the level of homelessness in Australia.”


BIA’s Responses to “The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness” (2008)

Brain Injury Australia has responded to “The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness” in a series of articles commissioned for the magazine Parity.

  • “Understanding the Complexity of Causality: The View from Here.”

    “… people with a “Dual Diagnosis” of [brain injury] and mental illness are either regularly refused assistance by mental health services or … they may receive treatment for their mental illness, but have their brain injury ignored.”


  • “Everybody Knows”

    “…staff working in services to the homeless should be given training in [brain injury] to aid their work with clients and to help them identify a [brain injury] in someone either unwilling to disclose or unaware of their disability.”


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