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This paper explores some of the challenges recently encountered in the recruitment of vocational education and training ( VET ) students with a diagnosed mental illness. Twenty students with mental illness, from four VET Institutes in two states of Australia, participated in a qualitative case study investigating factors affecting successful course completion. Access to students was dependent upon key contacts in each research site and although difficulty in recruitment was anticipated, unexpected opposition to student recruitment strategies came from some of the specialist staff employed to assist students with disabilities. Staff portrayed opposition to recruitment strategies as means of ensuring harm minimisation to students with mental illness. This paper argues that such protective gate keeping behaviours could equally be constructed as deliberately paternalistic and, at best, unintentionally stigmatising.

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Journal Article

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