This video talks about something called restrictive practice. It's a complicated topic because it can include arrangements that people hope will keep their loved ones safe. Restrictive practice is a way of managing a perceived problem, but it doesn't work that well and it never fixes the underlying cause.

This video is not saying that all restrictive practices are always wrong in every situation. But it is saying that there are alternatives that are important to explore.

If this video raises issues for you about your own support arrangements or those of someone you know, contact your local advocacy agency or help line.


Restrictive practice is a term that is used to describe any kind of support or practice that limits a person's freedom, limits their movement, or limits their rights, and this is particularly seen amongst people living with disability.

Restrictive practices can be a variety of things. For example, locking a fridge. It could be locking a cupboard and then someone can't access that cupboard and it's not their choice. It might be that they are locked in a room so they can't leave. It might be that a person who uses a powered wheelchair could have their battery removed. They literally are physically limited, they cannot move.

A different kind of restrictive practice might be chemical restraint, and that's where a person is just forced to have medication to chemically restrain that person so they can no longer move. They are forced to be sedated.

In Australia, there are senior practitioners that are government level positions, and these practitioners have special powers to protect the rights of people living with disability. The ACT Government commissioned JFA Purple Orange to lead a series of consultations around establishing an Office of the Senior Practitioner for the ACT.

There were already senior practitioners in Tasmania, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, but there was no senior practitioner in the state. So this meant that people living in the ACT with disability who were being subjected to restrictive practices were highly vulnerable.

So at the beginning of this project, we invited people to join a co-design group. We had people involved in human rights, the education system, mental health system, disability services, disability advocacy. We spoke to family members of people who live with disability, people living with disability themselves that wanted to tell us about their experience of having restrictive practices conducted on them. So at every stage, we had input and contribution from a huge collection of voices, experiences, and passion for the disability community living in the ACT.

I think a really key part of this project was realising how little awareness there is across the sector of what constitutes restrictive practices, and that therefore means it is really easy for well-intentioned, hardworking people to go about their daily business but actually subject someone to a restrictive practice because they just simply weren't identifying practices as being restrictive practices.

We see restrictive practices happening in hospital settings, education settings, group homes, institutions in general, often to manage challenging behavior or as punishment. For example, I had one person who lived with disability and he told me about a support worker who, when he was bad, he would just have his shoes taken away and that meant that he couldn't go outside.

We need to stop restrictive practices. Restrictive practices by their very nature take away choice and control in a person's lives.

As a result of our community consultation, we propose that an Office of the Senior Practitioner be established in the ACT to reduce and ultimately eliminate restrictive practices. We recommended that the Senior Practitioner raise awareness about restrictive practices and people's rights, oversee a new register showing who has a restrictive practice in their support plan, how long it will be there, and when it will be reviewed. Investigate concerns, help service providers build their skills so they are reducing the use of restrictive practices. This includes learning about honoring people's choices, customizing supports, and using positive behavior support techniques.


I feel really hopeful that there will be elimination of restrictive practices as time goes by. People have the ability to now receive more training, receive far more oversight across this area of the sector.

If this video raises issues for you about your own support arrangements or someone you know, contact your local advocacy agency or help line.