MHDCD Project

4.1 Project Design

The overall IAMHDCD study employed a multi-method design featuring both quantitative and qualitative components comprising:

  1. A quantitative study in which statistical analytic techniques were applied to the MHDCD Dataset to provide a description of the experiences of a cohort of Indigenous Australians with MHDCD in contact with the CJS and a comparison with their non-Indigenous peers.
  2. A series of case studies were developed drawing on data from the MHDCD Dataset providing narrative accounts of the experiences of selected individuals in their system contacts and pathways into and through the criminal justice system.
  3. A geographic distribution study using the MHDCD Dataset to investigate concentrations of disadvantage by examining the geographic distribution of members of the MHDCD Dataset cohort, providing comparison on the basis of Indigenous status and gender.
  4. A series of nested studies have been undertaken by affiliated researchers drawing on the MHDCD Dataset.
  5. A qualitative study in which Indigenous people who have MHDCD and who have been in the criminal justice system and their families, Aboriginal Community members and service providers were interviewed about their experiences of and views on Indigenous people with MHDCD’s involvement in the criminal justice system.

The approaches in each of these five areas were developed in dialogue with each other. Findings from one form of interrogation informed the approach to data collection and analysis undertaken in the others. In this way the five elements combine to provide a coherent and comprehensive account of the experiences of Indigenous Australians with MHDCD in their contact with the CJS and the critical issues identified to address their over-representation. The following sections set out each study, detailing the specific methods used and findings emerging.  This is followed by a discussion examining the overarching themes and issues, which have emerged from the separate project elements.

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