MHDCD Project

6.1 Method

In order to provide an in-depth picture of the pathways captured in the aggregate quantitative analysis, individual case studies of Indigenous people in the MHDCD Dataset were developed. These case studies provide a narrative account of individual lived experience to a level of detail that is not available in the aggregate data.  Individuals were selected for case study according to a series of specific criteria developed on the basis of the key findings of the aggregate data analyses to enable the identification of relevant illustrative cases. The depth and breadth of the MHDCD Dataset provides an opportunity to develop cases without relying on memory or estimates. These data provide details of the number, length and types of agency events and interactions as well as the observations of the officers or workers (e.g., Police, Disability, Legal Aid, Health) at the time of the event via case notes or narratives. This allows the development of a picture of the longitudinal pathways and agency-based interactions of these individuals tracked through their contact with agencies across their lives. Summarised narratives of each individual’s trajectory and institutional engagement were produced. All potentially identifying information was removed.

The data on which the case studies are developed also has a number of limitations, which should be noted. First, the data used in developing the case studies was collected for administrative rather than research purposes. This means that data are only available for the times when the individual was interacting with the agencies and so is not a complete picture of all events and issues occurring at all times in the individual’s life. Second, the data are derived via administrative running records including both episodes of service and where available, case notes associated with that episode. While these have reliability in terms of their immediacy to the event and their completion by agency personnel who were present during the event recorded (including Police Officers, health personnel and case workers), they capture only information relevant to the agency or function. This means that the content is necessarily shaped by the institutional context in which the data are gathered and does not capture the perspective of the individual themselves (except where recorded from the perspective of the agency personnel). Finally, the case studies are historical, variable and limited to specific time periods and therefore do not capture a lifelong picture. Instead the time span is different for each individual, determined by the data capture capabilities of the agencies over time and the point at which each individual initially came into contact with an agency providing data to the MHDCD Dataset. All case studies are compiled with available data to the point at which the data was drawn from each agency.  Generally this means that data spans events from around the mid 1980s up to the date of data extraction between 2008 and 2012. Taken together these data caveats mean that the case studies provide a partial and incomplete picture of any one person’s life experience. Nonetheless, the case studies are informative in providing, for the first time, a chronology and narrative of individual experiences of multiple systems’ involvement which would be difficult if not impossible to obtain from any one agency or individual alone.

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