Page 2357 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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as well as providing a formal framework for the overall reduction of restrictive practices in the ACT. The act defines a restrictive practice as one which is used to restrict the rights or freedom of movement of a person for the primary purpose of protecting the person or others from harm. Restrictive practices are most likely to be used on some of the most vulnerable people in our community: people with disability, older people, and children and young people.

As a human rights jurisdiction, the ACT government is committed to the reduction and elimination of restrictive practices in the ACT. This bill contains two amendments—firstly, the removal of verbal directions or gestural conduct of a coercive nature as a definition of restrictive practice; and, secondly, an amendment to strengthen the authority of regulations made under the act. Although the amendments are not significant, they are important in furthering our commitment to reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices and in ensuring that legislative compliance aligns with the intent of the act.

The inclusion of coercion as a restrictive practice has caused significant confusion for stakeholders, primarily because it gives the impression that it could be used. In reality, coercion would never be approved as part of an authorised positive behaviour support plan or be reasonably referred to as part of an emergency response in a duty of care situation. The use of coercion would be unlikely to constitute an action of last resort or be the least restrictive way of ensuring the safety of a person as required under the act. Removing this subsection makes clear that coercion is not a restrictive practice that could ever be part of a positive behaviour support plan.

Additionally, because the provision is not mirrored by other jurisdictions, its removal provides consistency with other quality and safeguarding frameworks. Whilst the act currently allows for the making of regulations by the minister, this bill further strengthens the authority of these regulations. The amendment will better enable the senior practitioner’s ability to enforce regulations, through specifying that a regulation may create offences, and to fix penalties. Importantly, the ability to create offences and fix penalties is intended to confer the seriousness and unacceptable nature of certain practices or actions as they may be defined.

The act supports the ACT government’s commitment to improving the lives of all people who are at risk and potentially subject to restrictive practices, as well as upholding their human rights. As detailed in the explanatory statement, through removing coercion and clarifying that it is not a restrictive practice and increasing the authority of regulations, the Senior Practitioner Amendment Bill 2022 promotes the right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to protection of family and children.

I take this opportunity to thank our community and our sector partners for their participation in the consultation process, and the Office of the Senior Practitioner for their ongoing commitment to raising awareness and supporting constant improvements in this area. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Lawder) adjourned to the next sitting.

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