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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1535 ..

Senior Practitioner Amendment Bill 2019

Ms Stephen-Smith, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Disability, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Employment and Workplace Safety, Minister for Government Services and Procurement, Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.35): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill addresses issues identified in the implementation of the Senior Practitioner Act 2018 and demonstrates the government's commitment to a nationally consistent approach to restrictive practice policy. We know that restrictive practices are more likely to be used in response to the behaviours of some of the most vulnerable people in our community: people with disability, older people, people living with mental illness, and children and young people.

The senior practitioner's powers extend to disability services, schools and other education settings, children and young people in out of home care and individuals receiving support for psychosocial disabilities. The senior practitioner is already playing an important role in our community, providing education and assistance in guiding decisions that deliver alternatives to restrictive practices. These alternatives preserve the person's rights, dignity and freedoms.

Since Ms Mandy Donley commenced work as the senior practitioner last year, she has done a lot of work in refining the operations of the office of the senior practitioner, working closely with the community and stakeholders on how we can reduce and eliminate restrictive practices in the ACT. One example of this work is the regular senior practitioner seminar series, which attracts registrations in the hundreds. This shows the strong interest in the ACT community in reducing and eliminating restrictive practices.

The bill I present today further supports the senior practitioner's engagement with community and service providers by recognising the use of restrictive practices in emergency situations and encouraging open disclosure and collaboration over a punitive approach. The amendments also address a requirement to change the definition of chemical restraint to align with the national disability insurance scheme quality and safeguarding framework. Amending the definition of chemical restraint shifts away from the current emphasis on movement to include a focus on behaviour, reflecting the person-centred intent of the act and ensuring a whole-of-person approach is adopted in the planning and implementation of positive behaviour support plans.

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