MHDCD Project

6.5 Case Studies Discussion

These case studies provide individual narrative accounts of Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability who have had histories of contact with the criminal justice system, detailing particular conditions and experiences. They flesh out the events and incidents evident in the qualitative analyses. Together the case studies highlight the breadth and depth of social need and disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disability. They reveal the systemic arrangements positioning the individuals to have early and regular contact with criminal justice agencies and to experience systemic racism in particular. Significant disadvantage, vulnerability and risk factors are evident from childhood in all of these case studies, including poverty, the presence of drug and alcohol misuse and violence in the family context, episodes in kinship and OOHC, early school disengagement, and early contact with police both as a victim (often of violence) and as an offender. These do not appear to trigger adequate responses from community-based services or any sustained support. The case of Matthew in particular exemplifies how a child can be identified by police and community services as at risk because he is moving between various relatives and institutional care, and living on the street, but where there is no evidence of early intervention by any service. The case studies highlight the lack of available and appropriate intervention or support for Aboriginal children and adults with multiple and complex support needs, precipitating their common experience of enmeshment in the criminal justice system.

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