About the project
The purpose of this project was to run a community consultation on how an Office of the Senior Practitioner (‘OSP’) might operate in the ACT.
The project involved three phases of consultation. Following an initial consultation (called 'phase 1') with a number of stakeholder peak bodies in the ACT, a discussion paper was released in January 2017. Titled, 'An overview of restrictive practices, and the key issues for consideration in relation to the establishment of an Office of the Senior Practitioner - January 2017', the report set out the main considerations when thinking about an Office of the Senior Practitioner in the ACT, and was the main reference document for the main consultation.
The main consultation (called 'phase 2') was a public consultation. This produced a report at the end of March that set out the main ideas about how an Office of the Senior Practitioner could work.
What are restrictive practices
Many people are living with increased vulnerability. These include people whose circumstances create concerns in others that the person’s actions may cause harm (or other types of perceived disruption) to themselves or others.
In response, conventional service systems sometimes arrange supports that include restrictions on the person’s movements and decisions. These types of support can be termed restrictive practices and can refer to any practice, device or action that removes or restricts another person's freedom, movement or ability to make a decision. Some examples of restrictive practices include:
- mechanical, such as devices that limit a person’s movements (and this includes the removal and/ or disengagement of mechanical supports that assist the person’s movements)
- seclusion, such as the sole confinement of a person at any time in any room where the doors and windows cannot be opened by that person
- environmental, such as preventing free access to all parts of a person’s environment or house (for example locking the refrigerators)
- social, such as the imposition of sanctions that restrict the person’s access to relationships/opportunities they value
- chemical, such as medications that blunt the person’s emotions, cognition, and motor activity
- physical, such as holding or ‘pinning down’ by another person
- psycho-social restraints, such as power control strategies which might include threats, intimidation, fear, coercion, discipline, or retaliation
- organisational, such as excluding the person from activities, and restrictions to the person's choice
- communication restraint, such as switching off someone’s communication device
- decision making restraint, such as failing to provide options for supported decision making
Except in emergency situations where necessary to prevent immediate harm to the person or others, seclusion and restraint are unlawful if used without legal authority. Current evidence indicates that the psychological and physical impact of seclusion and restraint is overwhelmingly negative. The need for these practices can be reduced and often eliminated through evidence-based, preventative approaches, along with increased support for services, and measures to improve their accountability and monitoring.
An Office of the Senior Practitioner in the ACT may be able to help reduce the use of restrictive practices in favour of alternatives.
The final consultation (called 'phase 3') was a technical consultation to explore how an Office of the Senior Practitioner would work, including the extent of its powers and how it would connect to other existing arrangements in the ACT. This resulted in a draft final report that was delivered to the ACT government at the end of June 2017.
A copy of the report will be available on this website once it has been finalised.
What this project hopes to do
This consultation will help inform the design of a regulatory approach for minimizing and eliminating restrictive practice for vulnerable people in the ACT community.
Some groups in the ACT community, including people with disability, older people, people living with mental illness, children and young people, and people intersecting with the justice system are more likely to be subjected to restrictive practices to manage behaviours that are seen as challenging. Restrictive practices form a continuum of limitations of a person’s human rights and freedoms. Some restrictive practices such as seclusion, physical and mechanical restraint and the forcible giving of medication are of particular concern as they severely limit individuals’ rights and freedoms.
The ACT Government is committed to improving the lives of people with a disability, as well as supporting and upholding their human rights. This consultation will inform a report submitted to the ACT government by JFA Purple Orange on the main elements of an Office of the Senior Practitioner.