Sexuality and relationship rights for people with acquired brain injury

Stream: Disability
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 1.35 pm – 3.15 pm


Until recently, sexuality has been treated as a kind of ‘second-order’ matter in the lives of people with disability. The topic remains under-addressed outside of disability studies, including in particular under the UNCRPD and the NDIS. There is a particular dearth of research in the area of sexuality and relationships for people with acquired brain injury (ABI), where the majority of existing research in this area focuses on staff training and the clinical and behavioural implications of ABI for sexual functioning. Such work tends to adopt a medical model of disability and often sidelines the perspectives and concerns of people with ABI themselves. In the current policy climate however we now see individualized funding raise the possibility of people with ABI claiming their sexual rights while also promoting the need for capacity development within mainstream service organisations.

This presentation will present a social/ecological framework for understanding sexuality in the lives of people with disability which was used to pilot a peer led program for and with people with ABI. The 12 month project conducted by Deakin University adapted the existing Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships program for people with ABI in which a narrative approach was used to gather stories from their lives with a focus on sexuality and relationships. The stories were used as the foundation for a peer education program delivered by people with ABI alongside community professionals. The presentation will outline the key findings of the project and recommendations for future work.


Amie O'Shea (Presenter), Deakin University
Dr Amie O’Shea is Research Fellow in the School of Health & Social Development at Deakin University. Amie’s research and teaching takes a poststructuralist approach to sexuality and gender for people with intellectual disability, and continues the search for meaningful and collaborative research methodologies. As the National Co-ordinator for Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships (SL&RR), a peer education program for people with intellectual disability and acquired brain injury, Amie is committed to sexuality rights and the prevention of violence against people with intellectual disability. Amie O’Shea will be presenting with peer educators Danny Li, Danette Rowse and Gabrielle Vassallo