MHDCD Project

A predictable and preventable path: IAMHDCD Report

October 2015.

 IAMHDCD Report October 2015Report Authors

Eileen Baldry, Ruth McCausland, Leanne Dowse, Elizabeth McEntyre

Project Investigators

Eileen Baldry, Leanne Dowse, Julian Trollor, Patrick Dodson, Devon Indig

Project Researchers

Peta MacGillivray, Elizabeth McEntyre, Ruth McCausland, Han Xu, Julian Trofimovs


The IAMHDCD Project logo was created by Melonie Hawke.

The logo represents the predictable and preventable pathways in and out of the criminal justice system – police, courts and prison – for increasing numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who have mental health and wellbeing issues and/or limited cognitive functioning. Knowledge, understanding and intent are the key steps to addressing the complex support needs of those that ask only to be safe and well in community settings and not ‘just a big vicious cycle that swallows them up’. This report has been developed to provide that knowledge for helping professionals to aid Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to claim their own recovery and have different pathways in their lives. The understanding and intent is a personal and professional responsibility and making that move is important for changing the status quo.

The IAMHDCD Project Team wishes to thank the following people for their contribution to our research:

Our Partner Organisations: Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network; Housing NSW (FaCS), Ageing Disability and Home Care NSW (FaCS), Legal Aid NSW and our Partner Investigator (2011-2013): Devon Indig.

Our Advisory Group: Damian Griffis – First Peoples’ Disability Network NSW; Patrick McGee – Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign Corinne Henderson – Mental Health Coordinating Council; Aine Healy and Jim Simpson – NSW Council for Intellectual Disability; Professor Juanita Sherwood – University of Sydney; Associate Professor Sue Green – UNSW; Glenn Williams – AH&MRC of NSW; Scott Hawkins – Director, Aboriginal Services Legal Aid NSW.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the many advisors and partners in a number of Aboriginal communities in NSW and the Northern Territory.

In addition, we wish to acknowledge (in alphabetical order): Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT (ALS) – John McKenzie, AH&MRC of NSW, ALS Dubbo – Stephen Lawrence, Alice Springs Aboriginal Community Member - Barbara Shaw, Phillip Alnutt, Awabakal Ltd, Bila Muuji Aboriginal Health Service, Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol Programs Unit (CAAAPU) – Aunty Eileen Houson, Aunty Christabel Swan and the members of the CAAAPU Board, Central Australian Legal Aid Service – Mark O-Reilly, Madeleine Rowley, Dharriwaa Elders Group - Aunty Virginia Robinson and Wendy Spencer, Dubbo Aboriginal Legal Service, Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre – Jimmy Forest, Dubbo Apollo House, Dubbo Aboriginal Community Member - Aunty Doris Shillingsworth, Moree Indigenous Community Links – Jaye Underwood and Elaine Tighe, Moree Aboriginal Community Member - Uncle Wayne Nean, Moree ALS, Northern Territory Legal Aid – Russell Goldflam, Pius X Aboriginal Corporation, Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service - Christine Corby and Leigh Leslie, Walgett Courthouse - Uncle Vince Kennedy, Walgett Café 64, Western Plains Medical Centre - Aunty Desley Mason. We sincerely thank all the advocates and agitators who want Aboriginal people to be kept well in community-based settings.

We also wish to thank Melissa Clarence, Cynthia Ceissman and Gemma McKinnon for their contributions to the IAMHDCD Project, and Sunanda Creagh from The Conversation for her assistance with the title of the report.

The data presented in this report is derived from the following projects:

ARC Linkage Grant (Project LP0669246), UNSW, ‘People with mental health disorders and cognitive disability in the criminal justice system in NSW’. Chief Investigators: Eileen Baldry, Leanne Dowse, Ian Webster; Partner Investigators: Tony Butler, Simon Eyland and Jim Simpson. Partner Organisations: Corrective Services NSW, Housing NSW, Justice Health NSW, Juvenile Justice NSW, and the NSW Council on Intellectual Disability.

ARC Linkage Grant (Project LP100200096), UNSW, ‘Indigenous Australians with mental health and cognitive disability in the criminal justice system in NSW’. Chief Investigators: Eileen Baldry, Leanne Dowse, Julian Trollor, Patrick Dodson. Partner Organisations: Justice Health, Housing NSW, Ageing Disability and Home Care NSW, Legal Aid NSW.



Professor Eileen Baldry

School of Social Sciences

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW
02 9385 4858

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