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General Descripton of the STEPS Program

Skills to Enable People and Communities  - word logo


STEPS Program Participants | STEPS Program Leaders | STEPS Program Brochure (pdf, 202kb) | Print Friendly Version (pdf, 67kb)


What is the STEPS Program?

The Skills To Enable People and CommunitieS (STEPS) Program is a Queensland-wide self-management based information and skills group program for adults aged 18-65 years with adult-onset Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) and their families and friends. Causes of ABI may be traumatic (e.g. car accident, fall, assault, etc.) or non-traumatic (e.g. stroke, tumours, poisoning).

The STEPS Program model aims to:

  • Establish a state-wide sustainable model of self-managed networks of support for people with ABI across Queensland.
  • Help people understand the effects of acquired brain injury, how to look after themselves, and how to participate more in their communities.
  • Provide resources to establish and maintain individual and group self-management strategies and programs locally
  • Train community leaders and people with ABI to develop and sustain support networks
  • Provide a group intervention with core curriculum to establish networks in metropolitan and regional areas of Queensland

The Program is a service arm of the Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service (ABIOS), Queensland Health which is part of Metro South Health Service..

              Quote from a STEPS Program Participant - I think as time goes on you face a whole lot of different challenges... it was good to talk to other people that had an injury like me... it does not make you feel...left out    STEPS Icon - Artists impression of people on coloured steps

Why do we need the STEPS Program?

People who have sustained an Acquired Brain Injury are a large and diverse group whose needs are historically not well met in Queensland.  The effect of brain injury or stroke on a person’s life can be extensive:

  • People with ABI commonly report having to deal with more than one type of impairment following their injury. These may include physical, cognitive, sensory, emotional, communication and behavioural impairments.
  • The impact on family and community is also profound.  Commonly, people with ABI experience deterioration in their family, social and community networks.
  • Reviewed  Finding support services with ABI understanding and experience can be challenging and complex.
  • People with serious brain injuries can often face significant social and rehabilitation barriers. e.g. unemployment, greater risk of alcohol and drug abuse, mental health problems and inappropriate accommodation (e.g. nursing homes).
  • These problems are further compounded for people with ABI in rural areas due to a lack of community services and the geographical dispersion of available services across vast areas.
  • The enormous task of family members in caring for a person with ABI is compounded by the lack of community awareness.  Rehabilitation and community integration would be easier if the community within which they live was more able to understand and respond to their needs.  The success of families to support members with ABI is often dependent on the ability of the local community to accept the person with a disability and support the family.

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How does the STEPS Program Operate?

There are two parts of the STEPS Program – STEPS Skills Program and STEPS Network Groups.

The STEPS Skills Program is a FREE, 6- week interactive group program, typically offered as 2-hour weekly sessions with groups of 8-10 people.  The groups are lead by trained leaders (see STEPS Program Leader information below).  It includes a workbook for everyone to use and follows a structured Program Outline.  The workbook facilitates group discussion and focuses on ways for participants to look after themselves and learn ways to get support they need. People with brain injury or stroke and their families and carers are welcome to attend.

The benefits for participants in the STEPS Skills Program  might include:

  • working with others in the groupwork sessions on issues that will positively influence your health and well-being both now and into the future
  • thinking about ways to look after yourself
  • learning ways to get the support you need
  • enhancing relationships with family, friends, and others in your life
  • sharing everyday life experiences with others in your community
  • learning more about acquired brain injury and stroke.

One of the most important features of the STEPS Skills Program is sharing experiences and thoughts amongst other people in the group.  The Program is designed for people in the group to share and learn from each others' experiences.  People are also given the opportunity to maintain contact with each other after the 6-week program has ended and many go on to establish STEPS Network Groups or other informal means of contact.

STEPS Program Network Groups are ongoing networks of support in local communities throughout Queensland that provide an opportunity for people to maintain the connections they developed during the initial 6-week program.  Each Network Group is slightly different because each group decides how they want their group to run in their local community.

Usually, groups meet in local community places, e.g. coffee shop, neighbourhood centre, park, and each session is about 2 hours long.  There is no specific cost to attend the STEPS Program Network Group, but people just pay for their own drinks or food, e.g. at a coffee shop.

The local STEPS Program Network Group Leaders have been trained by STEPS Program staff, who are health professionals with expertise in dealing with families and people with acquired brain injury.

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STEPS Program Leaders

STEPS Program is delivered by a trained volunteer workforce who can be from a range of backgrounds including health or disability service workers and peer leaders. A Peer leader is a person who has sustained an ABI, or family member of a person with ABI.  The engagement of peer leaders is sought from the following reasons:

  • Their commitment to their local community and likely ability to support ongoing network activities
  • Their authentic, lived experience of ABI or caring for a person with ABI
  • The STEPS Program leadership may provide a valued role for people with ABI, their families and friends.

We offer a 2- day course, free of charge, which includes:

  • detailed information about the STEPS Program
  • practical experience in delivering the STEPS Skills Program, using the Leader Manual, Group Workbook and STEPS Poster (pdf, 91kb)
  • skills and information about leading a STEPS Skills Program or STEPS Network Group
  • information about stroke and acquired brain injury
  • information and practical experience of the level of support and supervision from the STEPS Program staff that leaders can expect during local STEPS Skills Program delivery.

The training will be provided by staff from ABIOS who are health professionals with expertise in dealing with families and people with brain injury. Training is delivered in flexible ways depending on communities' different needs across Queensland.  We can travel to local communities by negotiation. The benefits to Leaders might include:

  • access to a STEPS Program / ABIOS Staff who are a group of professionals with expertise in brain injury for ongoing  education and support about brain injury
  • being part of a dynamic team of people working to improve the quality of life for people with acquired brain injury and their families and friends
  • access to a peer support network of STEPS Program Leaders throughout Queensland
  • developing skills that might be useful for you in other areas, e.g. future work prospects

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What Next?

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss being a participant in the STEPS Skills Program or becoming a STEPS Program Leader.



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Last updated: 5 May 2021