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Vocational Education and Training (VET) students experiencing mental illness have been described as one of the most vulnerable student groups in the Australian post-secondary sector. This vulnerability can be attributed to the impacts of illness, the oft-reported experiences of stigma and discrimination, and low educational outcomes. There is increased pressure for researchers and policy-makers to listen to the voices of the most disadvantaged learners to aid design and delivery of the Australian VET system, yet little knowledge exists in the sector about how this could and should occur. This paper critically reflects on some of the ethical issues and methodological challenges recently encountered in our research with VET students experiencing mental illness. Through rich description of our strategies for student recruitment and managing participant vulnerability, we aim to contribute to the literature informing qualitative research with VET students experiencing mental health issues. This is a timely contribution to the current debate on strategies designed to listen to the voice of the disadvantaged learner in order to inform teaching and learning and achieve better student outcomes.

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Journal Article

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