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Brain Injury Yarning Circles: Support groups for Aboriginal Australians after brain injury

This project will establish and evaluate the first regional and metropolitan support groups specifically for Aboriginal brain injury survivors and their families to encourage social and emotional wellbeing, and ultimately improve health outcomes for this under-served population. The groups will employ Aboriginal facilitators to offer ongoing, culturally secure psychosocial support, education, practical problem-solving, yarning and socialization to help avoid social isolation for Aboriginal brain injury survivors and their families. They will be based at Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service and Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation in Perth. The study will use participatory action research methodology to ensure the groups meet participants’/community needs and monitor the development and outcomes of the groups over a six-month period.

The Research

The project aims:

  1. To provide a culturally secure community-based support group for Aboriginal people post stroke and traumatic brain injury in rural and metropolitan areas that is feasible and acceptable
  2. To promote social and emotional wellbeing post brain injury for the survivors themselves
  3. To decrease carer strain

Expected outcomes are:

  • The groups will be feasible and acceptable as reflected by regular attendance and verbal feedback provided through focus group interviews.
  • The groups will be effective as shown by:
    • An improvement in ratings of social and emotional wellbeing on either the Strong Souls or the Growth and Empowerment Measure from the beginning of the group to the six-month point
    • A decrease in carer strain as measured by an improved score on the Modified Carer Strain Index from the beginning of the group to the six-month point
    • Feedback provided through focus groups interviews
  • A model for culturally secure brain injury support groups that could be used in other centres will be developed.

Funding Body

Brain Injury Yarning Circles is funded by the Neurotrauma Research Program & WA Department of Health, Jan 2020 – Dec 2021.


The project is led by Professor Beth Armstrong (Edith Cowan University) with a team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers from Edith Cowan University’s Speech Pathology team, the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Centre for Rural Health, Telethon Kids Institute, Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service, and Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation.


  • Professor Elizabeth Armstrong, Speech Pathology, Edith Cowan University
  • Associate Professor Natalie Ciccone, Speech Pathology, Edith Cowan University
  • Professor Juli Coffin, Telethon Kids Institute, Broome
  • Ms Deborah Woods, Geraldton Aboriginal Medical Service
  • Mr Rodney Carpio, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation
  • Professor Sandra Thompson, WA Centre for Rural Health/UWA
  • Associate Professor Judith Katzenellenbogen, Telethon Institute/UWA
  • Associate Professor Deborah Hersh, Speech Pathology, Edith Cowan University
  • Ms Meaghan McAllister, Speech Pathology, Edith Cowan University
  • Associate Professor Erin Godecke, Speech Pathology, Edith Cowan University

Project Manager: Mr Rodney Carpio

For further information about the project please contact:

Professor Beth Armstrong
Telephone: (61 8) 6304 2769


Mr Rodney Carpio
Telephone: (08) 6174 7000

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