MHDCD Project

8.2.1 Consulting key stakeholders in Indigenous informed research

The first phase of the qualitative work involved pre-fieldwork visits to Aboriginal communities for identifying and consulting with key stakeholders in the development of the Indigenous-informed methodology. This consultation was achieved by taking advice from the project’s Indigenous Advisory Group, the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AHMRC) NSW and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).

Project Advisory Group

A Project Advisory Group was established to provide guidance on the protocols and procedures of approaching and working in partnership with the communities that were identified as appropriate for the study. The project advisory group comprised representatives from UNSW (Professor Juanita Sherwood, Associate Professor Susan Green), the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign (Patrick McGee), Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (Glenn Williams), and the Mental Health Coordinating Council (Corinne Henderson).

Ethics Approval

Ethical approval was sought and granted from the UNSW HREC from the NSW AH&MRC Ethics Committee to conduct the project in NSW. In granting its approval, the AH&MRC commended the project, stating that it ‘sets out an excellent model for respectfully working with Aboriginal communities in a culturally appropriate way in order to produce research which will be of benefit to them and which involves them intellectually in the production and control of the results.’[1] The Ethics Committee for Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network also supported the research. In particular, a close engagement with the AHMRC of NSW was achieved by Elizabeth McEntyre, a senior Aboriginal woman known within the NSW correctional health system and the project’s APAI holder, and Professor Baldry, meeting regularly with executive members of the AHMRC of NSW to report on progress and seek guidance on particular matters. Discussion with the AHMRC of NSW resulted in guidance on appropriate links with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations in research sites as well as a sounding board on difficult matters. For the Northern Territory (NT), ethics was sought and granted from the Central Australian Human Research Ethics Committee (CAHREC) after establishing a relationship and partnership with the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programmes Unit (CAAAPU) based in Alice Springs. Ethics was also sought and granted from NT Correctional Services for the fieldwork undertaken in Alice Springs Correctional Centre. Additional ethics was sought and granted from Corrective Services NSW for fieldwork to be undertaken in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre and Miruma Diversionary Program for the nested project related to Indigenous women.


[1] Email from NSW AH&MRC Ethics Committee: ‘858/12 – Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System (IAMHDCD Project)’, 16 May 2012. 

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