Indigenous People, Mental Health, Cognitive Disability and the Criminal Justice System

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Dr Ruth McCausland, Ms Elizabeth McEntyre, Prof Eileen Baldry (UNSW Sydney)

This research brief provides an analysis of available data on the prevalence rates of Indigenous people with mental health disorders and cognitive disability in Australia and outlines the challenges in obtaining accurate data. The brief considers issues facing these groups of Indigenous people in their contact with police, in courts, in custody and post-release, highlighting the lack of appropriate diversionary programs at all ages of this contact. Drawn from available research and evaluations, this brief concludes with key principles and strategies for policy and programming reform in this area.

The Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System Project was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant.