Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 November 2022) . . Page.. 3596 ..
Senior Practitioner Amendment Bill 2022
Debate resumed from 4 August 2022, on motion by Ms Davidson:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (11.15): I can confirm that the Canberra Liberals will be supporting this bill without any further amendments, because we believe it will improve the care and protection of our most vulnerable Canberrans. The two changes were made in response to feedback from the community, and the changes to section 7, particularly, make sense. They clarify what was a significant anomaly in the care of people with a disability. They will also help to bring the ACT legislation in line with the NDIS.
I will watch with interest the outcome to the changes to section 53, which adds the ability to enforce the regulations that accompany the act and the ability to create offences. The penalty units seem a little excessive, set at 30—currently the equivalent to almost $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for an organisation. I am hoping there will be flexibility, guidance and education around these matters.
I was pleased to hear from the minister—and thank you for your response to my email—that the further regulations will be developed in consultation with the community. This will, no doubt, ensure they are fair and equitable and respond to further needs. This bill has the support of the Canberra Liberals.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.17), in reply: I am pleased to present the Senior Practitioner Amendment Bill 2022 for debate. The ACT government is committed to the reduction and elimination of restrictive practices in the ACT. This is defined under the Senior Practitioner Act 2018:
… to restrict the rights or freedom of movement of a person for the primary purpose of protecting the person or others from harm …
We know that some of the most vulnerable people in our community are most likely to be subject to restrictive practices: people with disability, older people, and children and young people. The two amendments contained in the bill support our commitment to reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices and ensure that legislative compliance aligns with the intent of the act.
Firstly, the bill removes “verbal directions, or gestural conduct, of a coercive nature” as a definition under the meaning of a restrictive practice. The inclusion of coercion as a restrictive practice has caused significant confusion for stakeholders, chiefly because it implies that it could be used. Verbal direction or gestural conduct of a coercive nature includes a person being threatened in an attempt to force compliance. It may occur when a person is degraded, humiliated or forced into a position of powerlessness, such as a threat to deny access to a mobility or communication aid. It is clear that conduct of this kind negatively impacts people’s rights and wellbeing.