24. Continuing learning

What options do I have to continue learning?

Study is a great way to:

  • learn something new
  • revise existing knowledge
  • learn something in greater detail.

Learning is a part of life. Whether we are working, playing, or at school, we are continually learning. When a person has a brain injury they may be at school, work or retired.

A brain injury may prevent you from doing things as you used to. You may have to study to do what you used to or to try something new.

Learning is fun. There are many types of learning options available.

Some examples are:

1. Community colleges
2. TAFEs
3. Universities
4. Community centres
5. Private courses
6. Correspondence courses.

It depends on what you want to learn as to where you go to continue learning.


Where can I go to continue studying?

Community collages

Community college classes are usually held in local schools or community centres. They offer a range of subjects from car maintenance to painting, to computers to cooking to massage to sewing. The courses usually run in line with each school term and are frequently practical classes. There is a cost involved. It is different for each course. Concessions are available for those on a pension.


TAFE courses are numerous and varied. Courses offered may run for 1 semester (20 weeks), 1 year or more, depending on what you choose. TAFE has an enrolment procedure. You need to complete an enrolment form at the beginning of the year or the beginning of the semester. (These enrolment forms do not guarantee you will be accepted into the course. Being organised and applying early can increase your success.) Different courses are offered at different TAFEs. Don't assume the local TAFE will have the course you want.

There is a cost involved in attending TAFE. These student fees vary, however are compulsory in most cases. To enrol in some courses you must have pre-requisite knowledge or previous experience and learning.

TAFE has Disability Liaison Officers. They may not be based at every TAFE however, they may provide a service to your local TAFE. If you would like assistance in determining what course is appropriate for you, you can contact one of these officers. If you feel you may need extra support to study the Disability Liaison Officers can help.

Brian's Experience

Brian was unable to resume normal duties in the Defence Force so he applied to do a computer course at TAFE. He contacted the recreation officer at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit. The recreation officer liaised with a disability liaison officer. Brian, the recreation officer and occupational therapist met with the disability liaison officer and decided upon an appropriate course. Brian identified he thought he may have some difficulty keeping up with class work and homework. Brian thought his memory would make it difficult. All agreed Brian might initially benefit from being in a mainstream one-day computer class with one-on-one support. This could be decreased to 2 hours of after-class support one-on-one if Brian was managing.


University applications are accepted once a year. To enrol in a university, you need to request and complete a UAC form. Each year the university makes available a book that lists all university courses offered. Each course lists pre-requisite knowledge and or experience. Acceptance into one of these courses is determined through a ranking process.

University courses are usually reflective of professional career choices, are time and study intensive.

Community Centres

Local community centres frequently run non-expensive short courses related to art and ranging from sewing and cooking, relaxation and stress management, aerobics and fitness, and pottery to learning English or another language. Attendance at these courses is more flexible and you may be able to attend individual weeks or have to commit for a shorter number of weeks. Community centre courses are frequently smaller and less formal. Not only are they are a great place to improve your knowledge and skills, but an excellent place to meet other people with similar interests.

Harry's experience

Harry moved to Australia from Vietnam. He suffered a brain injury after working for only a short period of time. He had not built up a great knowledge of English prior to his accident. Harry identified his need to learn English as a goal with his case manager from the Brain Injury Rehabilition Unit. Harry worked with the recreation officer and his case manager to locate a close course. They found one and Harry enrolled. Harry attends these courses three times a week for two hours each day; He reports having made friends and increased his English skills.

Private courses

Private education courses are available in just about any area you can imagine. The private courses are usually specialised in one area, intense and demanding. The main difficulty is they are extremely expensive to enrol in. You also need to afford texts and equipment you may require. If however, money is not a concern and you are sure of what you want to do, they can be useful. They will frequently work with you and with support workers to help you acquire new skills. These courses usually require commitment for a certain period of time.

Bronwyn's experience

Bronwyn wanted to do childcare. She had made enquiries through TAFE but had never been able to enrol due to the high class numbers. Bronwyn had an insurance claim and they were keen to help her explore work options. Bronwyn decided she definitely wanted to work in childcare. She worked with the recreation officer and case manager to explore private tuition or courses. They found one. Approval was granted from the insurance company and Bronwyn enrolled in the course. The occupational therapist thought Bronwyn may need some extra tuition beyond the course and Bronwyn agreed to support worker assistance to revise study notes. Bronwyn and the rehabilitation team agreed Bronwyn might need to take on two subjects a term as opposed to five. The Child Care Organisation said this would be fine and Bronwyn completed the course over an extended period of time as a part-time student. Bronwyn completed her course and is now in the process of finding work experience placements.

Correspondence courses

Correspondence courses are usually run from Educational Institutions or Departments. Correspondence courses involve you being sent information, completing it and then sending it back to the institution when you have completed the work. Correspondence courses range from learning English, gardening, to completing university study. Frequently there are timeframes you have to stick to and assignments you need to complete to be sent the next module.

Correspondence courses are good in that you can work through the information provided at your own pace. You can revise it and do further research if necessary to understand a concept they are expressing. You can also ask another to work with you to understand what is being stated.

Correspondence courses are difficult if you have a problem managing your own time. It is essential you keep time aside to work each day on the correspondence learning. Otherwise you get to the deadline and you have not completed the required study or assignment. This means you either don't hand the assignment in on time, or you do hand it in but you have to rush to get it done. This probably means it is not your best work. This can put you through extra stress.

Who can I contact for more information?

To help you work out where would be the best place for you to study, talk to people who work with you or support you. At the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Programs you could talk to your:

  • Case Manager
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Recreation Officer
  • Rehabilitation Specialist.