Evaluation of Reciprocity in Education: A piloted model of interactive learning between migrant communities and mainstream mental health services (2001)

Paul Aylward

The Reciprocity in Education Project was a twelve-month pilot activity under the auspices of the Adelaide Central Community Health Service (ACCHS) that aimed to develop and trial a model of interactive learning between three strategically selected Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) community groups (Persian, Cambodian and Italian) and mainstream mental health services.

The Project brought together a diversity of interest groups and recognised experts in the mental health area including, NEBSWEB and ATMHN, health workers, academics from the three South Australian Universities and prominent national and international figures. The Project also sought to involve the expertise and knowledge of the NESB communities themselves. Evaluation data was obtained through applying a multi-facetted and methodologically triangulated approach incorporating surveys, telephone interviewing, focus groups, min-groups, in-depth interviews and systematic observations. A full rationale for each methodological approach is provided. A strategy for addressing the NESB participants in the evaluation, many of whom had experienced trauma was also compiled. A number of innovative steps were taken to ensure authentic accounts were obtained and that participants felt free to fully discuss their experiences of the Project.

The evaluation adopted a reflexive practice and a 'constant comparison' approach borrowed from grounded theory; the cooperation of bi-lingual project workers in a 'participatory' sense was also enlisted. This report provides a thorough evaluation of the Reciprocity in Education Project. The report also addresses a range of methodological challenges faced by evaluators who have to interview traumatised people from different cultural and socio-political backgrounds as part of the evaluation process.

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