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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1536 ..

Alignment with the national quality and safeguarding framework supports the ACT government's commitment to national consistency in the authorisation, use and eventual elimination of restrictive practices. As the NDIS quality and safeguards commission comes into effect on 1 July 2019, an administrative amendment is also being made to include the NDIS quality and safeguards commission as an entity to which the senior practitioner may provide information.

An important element of this bill is the recognition of the use of restrictive practice in an emergency situation. Currently, the act specifies that the use of a restrictive practice by a provider must be in accordance with a registered positive behaviour support plan for the person. This does not recognise a situation where imminent harm is reasonably anticipated to either the person or others and restrictive practice is used as an emergency response. Acknowledging and making provision for the use of emergency restrictive practice is not an indication of acceptance of restrictive practices generally by either the ACT government or the senior practitioner, but rather recognition is made for the purpose of facilitating openness and reporting.

Importantly, and fundamentally, the bill enshrines the principle that providers should use restrictive practices only as a last resort, and in the least restrictive way and for the shortest period possible in the circumstances. I thank the Human Rights Commission particularly for their input into this amendment.

The bill includes an amendment to the offence of using a restrictive practice other than under a positive behaviour support plan. This is largely to provide for the use of emergency restrictive practice but also removes the penalty of six months imprisonment. This change has been made in response to stakeholder feedback that the potential penalties may prohibit open disclosure and collaboration with the senior practitioner. In addition, removing this particular penalty addresses strong stakeholder concerns that making individual workers potentially subject to harsh penalties will make it more difficult to attract and retain workers. A maximum penalty of 50 penalty units remains, as well as penalties for failure to comply with a direction of the senior practitioner.

The removal of this particular penalty, along with providing for the reporting of emergency restrictive practices, is intended to facilitate shining a light on hidden practices in the ACT. The collection and analysis of data to identify trends and potentially highlight areas for development will further support our goal of eliminating the use of restrictive practices in the ACT. Madam Speaker, the intention of the Senior Practitioner Act 2018 was to bring to bear infrastructure and supports to reduce and eliminate the use of restrictive practices in the ACT.

These amendments further refine this work. The government is committed to achieving the aims of the legislation, with a focus on the individual and by establishing a framework to guide providers and shape a culture focused on positive supports. The offences are an important tool to that end but do not replace a strength-based approach to cultural change, education and capacity building to reduce reliance on restrictive practices.

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