Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships: Brain Injury

SL&RR Synapse site
From the left: Sonya G, Danny, Danette, Gabby, Sharon, & Sonya F

Sexual Lived & Respectful Relationship: Brain Injury (SL&RR:BI) is an arm of the SL&RR family which is specifically for people with brain injury. In 2018, SL&RR partnered with Synapse Australia to create this program. It all started when a staff member from Synapse attended an information session for the Western Sydney SL&RR site. They connected with the values of SL&RR, however questioned how the program could be adapted to better suit a connection to people with brain injury. This begin the journey of a research project, funded by an NDIS ILC grant, to collect narrative stories from people with brain injury about relationships and sexuality in their lives, and develop these stories into the SL&RR:BI program.

The new stories feature:

Chris “Something more than both”

David “I’ve got small dreams”

Emmet “Less lost than I used to be”

Georgina “I am strong”

Julie “It’s made me who I am”

Max “We met on the internet”

Selma “It’s not all going to suck”

Soraya “Not the nothing girl”

These stories were collected and developed over 2018-2019 by the research team at Deakin University including Amie O’Shea, Patsie Frawley and Monica Wellington.

The stories were developed into video by filmmaker Caleb Rixon from Genyus Network and included actors with lived experience of brain injury. You might even recognise SL&RR South Eastern Melbourne network member Ross!

SL&RR:BI uses the same peer education model and four sessions as always. It incorporates SL&RR favourites like the rights cards and the post card game, combined with new activities such as “reaching in, reaching out”, and BeyondBlue LGTBIQ real life stories.

In January 2019, the SL&RR:BI Synapse site completed their training to become Peer Educators and Program Partners. The training team included Rhys Nagas, Linda Stokoe, Amie O’Shea and Monica Wellington. Site members Gabby, Danny, Danette, Sonya G, Sonya F, Sharon and Axel are well supported by partner organisations Sydney Women’s Counselling Service, Guthrie House and Synapse Australia.

The site had been meeting regularly over 2019 in preparation for their first program delivery in July and August 2019. Sonya G, Sonya F, Danny, Gabby and Danette facilitated the program to 9 people and everyone was very proud of the growth from both the participants and the facilitators.

Comments from the site:

The SL&RR workshop for people with a brain injury was recently completely with all the participants acknowledging how great it is to have this program. It was such a powerful and engaging group and we are really proud to have been able to bring it to fruition. The facilitators did an exceptional job and all the participants and peer educators offered so much hope and inspiration. We hope that we can continue on with this great work

In August, site representative Danny Li and Dr Amie O’Shea attended and presented at the 2019 Australian Social Policy Conference. Their presentation was titled “Sexuality and relationship rights for people with acquired brain injury” and was the inaugural recipient of the Early Career Researcher Award!

The Synapse site will continue their fantastic work over 2019 and into the future. If you would like to be a participant in SL&RR:BI or to be a part of the site as a Peer Educator or Program Partner, please get in touch with slrr@deakin.edu.au or call 03 5227 3020.


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