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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2236 ..

government agencies and community services providers have gained insight into the use of restrictive practices, and that insight will be essential throughout the review process as the Office of the Senior Practitioner continues to mature.

I was keen to speak today particularly to acknowledge the contribution of the inaugural Senior Practitioner, Mandy Donley. Mandy recently returned to Victoria but has left an indelible mark on the ACT. Mandy’s practical approach has supported all sectors covered by the act—the most comprehensive restrictive practices oversight regime in the country—to understand their legal obligations and, more importantly, how they can better support the people they work with.

The impact of COVID-19 has been profound and evident across the ACT community. We have heard this from the community services sector with implications for service delivery, increased demand and resourcing. By extending the time frame for the review, a comprehensive process can take place in line with the intent of the act across all sectors covered.

I thank Minister Davidson and the officials who have worked on this bill for their commitment to the human rights of people who are subject to restrictive practices. I assure Mr Milligan that there is no ill-intent here and that he need not worry about the ACT government’s commitment to the rights of the most vulnerable people in our community. I am pleased to support this bill today and look forward to the review in 2023.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (4.15), in reply: Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the debate on the Senior Practitioner Amendment Bill 2021. This bill confirms the ACT government’s strong commitment to promoting human rights and regulating, reducing and eliminating restrictive practices by ensuring that the Senior Practitioner Act is reviewed in an effective and robust manner.

The Senior Practitioner Act 2018 commenced on 1 September 2018. The act created the new role of Senior Practitioner, as well as providing a formal framework for the reduction and elimination of restrictive practices. The current act requires that a review of its operation be carried out and a report provided to the Assembly as near to 1 September 2021 as practicable. This has not been possible due to a number of factors. The bushfires in 2020 and the COVID-19 public health emergency impacted the availability of resources—financial and personnel—to undertake the review within the intent of the act.

Compounding this, while the act has been in place since September 2018, it is really in its infancy as it has required practices to be embedded and reporting infrastructure built around it to ensure proper implementation and data collection. There has been a significant level of change since the establishment of the act, including the commencement of the criminal offences provisions on 1 July 2020 and the impact of thin market pressures.

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