Finding employment while living with an acquired brain injury

Living with acquired brain injury and looking for employment? APM explains how to get the support you need to succeed in the workplace.

Acquired brain injury (ABI) is any injury to the brain that occurs after birth.

It can happen any time in someone's life from a wide range of causes including traumatic injuries to the head, strokes, infections, brain tumours and conditions that affect the brain such as Parkinson's disease.

Symptoms and capabilities vary from person to person, depending on the area of the brain that is affected.

Things like memory loss, physical impairments and post traumatic stress disorder may present challenges when looking for a new job or trying to return to work.

Working with acquired brain injury

Everyone's journey with acquired brain injury and employment is different. With the right support, most job seekers are able to find work where they can succeed.

In fact, working can be highly beneficial for people with acquired brain injury. Not only does working give you more financial freedom, it can also give you a sense of purpose, connection and satisfaction.

People living with an acquired brain injury may experience challenges when trying to enter the workforce for the first time or when trying to return to work.

If you are finding it difficult to find work, employment support is available to help you overcome the challenges and find a job where you can thrive.

Speak to APM about how our employment consultants can help.

Returning to work

After experiencing a traumatic brain injury, many people hope to return to their previous job. This is often possible with the right support in place.

If keeping up with the demands of your previous role is difficult or unsafe, you may need to consider transferring skills to a new role or changing careers.

With medical advice, some people decide not to return to work and instead focus on meaningful activities like volunteering or spending time with family.

Returning to work takes a different amount of time for everyone. It is important to actively participate in your rehabilitation program as this will help you better cope when you return to work.

Strategies for a successful return to work

Going through recovery and searching for work can be stressful at times. It is important to have strategies in place to make sure your return to work is successful. This could include:

  • Having a gradual return to work. For example, working part time hours or shorter days.
  • Doing a work trial to help assess your ability to return to work and what adjustments you might need.
  • Getting on the job training to help you relearn skills or gain new skills that you need for the role.
  • Accessing mental health support. If you aren't coping, it's important to reach out for help.

APM can help with accessing all of the above services.

Starting a new career

People who are living with acquired brain injury can do most kinds of jobs and work activities with the right support and accommodations in place.

Before looking for a new job, it's important to consider your:

  • Interests
  • Skills and qualifications
  • Challenges and capabilities
  • Previous work experience
  • Preferred work environment

Speaking with an employment consultant from APM can help you discover career pathways and job types that would be a good fit for you.

Check out Chris Pyne's story of how he overcame the challenges of a traumatic brain injury to become a professional football player.

Workplace adjustments

People with ABI may experience a range of symptoms that impact their work capacity.

Reasonable adjustments are small changes in your job duties or work environment that help you perform your job well and safely. Australian employers are legally required to make reasonable adjustments for their employees.

Everyone's experience with acquired brain injury and employment is unique and workplace adjustments should be specific to your needs.

Examples of workplace adjustments:

  • Regular rest periods throughout the day to help you manage fatigue.
  • Flexible working hours. For example, if you experience dips in energy on a certain day, your employer may allow you to start the day early or later.
  • Using written instructions, prompt cards and dictaphones to help with memory and organisation.
  • Software and applications to help with literacy and numeracy tasks.
  • Breaking large tasks into smaller steps can help make tasks more manageable. Having routines in place can also make it easier to keep up at work.
  • Reduced work hours, part time work and working from home to help manage fatigue and tiredness.
  • Specialist equipment to help with physical impairments and mobility issues.
  • Supervision and/or a support buddy to help you feel more confident and supported at work.
  • Creating a quiet workplace environment and minimising distractions to help with fatigue and concentration.

APM can help you communicate your needs to your employer and access workplace assessments to discover solutions that work for everyone.

We can also help you access funding for specialist equipment you might need.

Where to get support

If you are living with acquired brain injury and looking for work, you could be eligible for the Disability Employment Services program.

This government funded program helps people living with injury, illness or disability find and keep work.

When you register with a Disability Employment Services provider such as APM, you can get tailored support with things like:

  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Writing resumes and job applications
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Accessing mental health services
  • Accessing funding for things like transport and uniforms
  • Accessing appropriate workplace adjustments

How to register for Disability Employment Services

You can register for Disability Employment Services by:

  • Asking Centrelink for a referral to a Disability Employment Services provider. You can choose which provider you want to go with, just tell Centrelink your preference.
  • Registering directly with a provider, such as APM.

Our approach at APM

At APM, we help people with acquired brain injury find and keep a job by supporting them every step of the journey.

Our employment consultants work closely with job seekers to get them the support and services that are right for them and their working life.

Whatever your employment goals are, we're here to help you get there.

Call us today to see how we can help.

Helpful resources for acquired brain injury employment

Here are some other resources you might find helpful:

Job Access

Job Access is a website created by the Australian Government with information and resources about disability and employment.



Toozly is a job search website for people with disability.


Australian Disability Enterprises

Australian Disability Enterprises are not-for-profit organisations that help provide supported employment opportunities for people with disability.

Local support groups

Joining a community-based support group in your local area may help you connect with others who are on a similar journey with acquired brain injury and employment.

Register with APM today and get support that's right for you.

If you're living with acquired brain injury and want to get to work, we believe there's a job out there for you where you can thrive.

At APM, we've seen firsthand how working can be highly beneficial for people's self confidence and satisfaction with life.

We're ready to help you overcome the challenges and step into the exciting next chapter.

Call us on 1300 967 522 to see how we can help, or register for Disability Employment Services with us today.