Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2619 ..
A significant strength of this bill is that it enshrines a whole-of-government approach to reducing and eliminating restrictive practices. The oversight will extend to disability services, schools and out-of-home care settings. However, the influence and leadership of the senior practitioner is intended to drive cultural change across all sectors where restrictive practices may be an issue. Changing attitudes and practices across services and achieving better reporting will require the senior practitioner to provide a safe environment in which issues can be discussed and better ways identified to address concerning behaviours.
By facilitating genuinely open and honest communication at all levels, the outcome of the senior practitioner’s engagement will be to foster a practice leadership culture. This approach will build the capacity of the sector to reduce and eliminate any restrictive practices in place. The senior practitioner will maintain links with the ACT Human Rights Commission to ensure an ongoing high threshold for the use of any restrictive practice in the ACT.
This bill will protect and improve the rights of vulnerable individuals. I commend it to the Assembly.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.56): I rise to speak in support of the bill presented today by Minister Stephen-Smith. The Greens, of course, support the intent of the bill and the recently established role of the senior practitioner to reduce and eliminate the use of restrictive practices in the ACT.
It is worth noting at this point that there is in fact a broad spectrum of what is classified as a restrictive practice, and it includes the use of chemical, physical and mechanical restraints or restrictions on a person’s autonomy. I understand that a significant part of the senior practitioner’s role will be to understand and gather information about what restrictive practices are currently being used in the ACT, before developing guidelines and providing an oversight function for their use.
I would also like to acknowledge the positive decision to include health care and school settings in the scope of the legislation, as well as the disability sector. It should be noted that children are amongst the most vulnerable members of our community and that there has been some unfortunate history of restrictive practices in ACT schools. I am sure that many members of this Assembly and the community would recall the incident of a child being restrained in a cage. This is an extreme example, and I note that the government, fortunately, has taken steps to ensure that it will not be repeated in the ACT. However, according to the recent report by the Australian Human Rights Commission into addressing violence against people with disability, it is unfortunately the case that, and I quote:
Children with disability are disproportionately vulnerable to certain forms of violence, abuse and neglect. For example, they may be subject to ungoverned or unapproved restrictive practices, forced sterilisation or abortion, and sexual violence.
Also, as quoted in the commission’s report: