Supporting people with acquired brain injury and their families

History of Headway Gippsland

In 1981, Yooralla social worker Pamela Threlfall, held a public meeting in Melbourne to voice her concerns about the lack of services for people with acquired brain injury (ABI) and their families. This meeting led to formation of the first support group in Melbourne, which was soon followed by a mutual support group in Morwell.

The Gippsland group – comprising individuals with ABI and carers – met regularly to identify the needs of their members. Since then, Gippsland members have tirelessly fought to have ABI recognised as a specific disability with specific needs and to have these needs met by government and generic services.

The First Gippsland Centre

In 1985 the group applied for funding from the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation to establish a drop-in centre for young people with ABI. The centre received a small amount of funding to operate two days per week and provide activities and social options for people with ABI and respite for their family carers. The centre was also supported through fund raising activities, donations from service clubs and support from Headway Victoria, enabling the program to continue for several years.

Headway Victoria supported other short-term projects for Gippsland people with ABI during this period such as social group meetings and the Community Options Program, which enabled the identification of service gaps in the health system for people with ABI.

Social Support

Headway Gippsland was Incorporated in 1993 with Commonwealth funding for an Individual Support Service two days per week, and State Government funding allowing a Social Support Program to operate one day per week.

Since incorporation, Headway Gippsland has operated under a Committee of Management providing five Social Support Programs across Gippsland, the Great Break weekend respite program, a full time Individual Support Service and brokerage services.


A Care for Caregivers Program began in 1995 providing information and assistance to encourage and empower carers in their caring roles. Headway Gippsland now supports two carers groups in Gippsland.