The Disability Services Act 2006 aims to reduce or eliminate the need for use of restrictive practices in the disability services sector.
Under the Act, before a restrictive practice can be used, a service provider must meet a number of requirements. For further information about the legal requirements on the use of restrictive practices read Overview of amendments to the Disability Services Act 2006 .
Under the Act, restrictive practices in relation to an adult with an intellectual or cognitive disability whose behaviour either causes, or is at risk of causing serious physical harm to the adult or others include:
Table of contents:
See Glossary for the meaning of these restrictive practices as defined by the Act.
Find out how someone is assessed for a restrictive practice.
Restrictive practices identified within the Act are listed with examples as follows:
If someone is being physically stopped from leaving the premises where he or she receives disability services, other than through seclusion (see Seclusion), this may mean they are being contained.
Example: Ken has an intellectual disability and lives in his home with support staff. Sometimes he leaves his home without support staff and will try to take soft drinks from the local shop. When the shopkeeper tries to stop him, Ken gets upset and hits the shopkeeper. Now, support staff keep Ken's front door locked to stop him leaving his home without them.
When it's not containment…
Under the Act, a person is not contained, if:
- he or she has a skills deficit, and
- their free exit from the premises is prevented by the locking of gates, doors or windows.
If someone is being physically confined alone, at any time of the day or night, in a place he or she cannot freely exit, this may mean they are being secluded.
Example: Kathy lives in supported accommodation along with three other women. Sometimes, when she is leaving for work in the morning she becomes upset and can hurt her housemates. When this happens, Kathy's support worker locks Kathy in her bedroom until she calms down.
If someone is being given medication to control their behaviour, this may mean he or she are being chemically restrained.
Example: John lives in shared accommodation with two other men. Support workers take Jon and the other men out to do their shopping or visit doctors. Sometimes, when the other men are running late, John gets angry and hurts them. If the support workers see John getting angry, they give John his medicine. This medicine has been prescribed by John's doctor to calm him down and stop him from hurting others.
If a device is being used to control someone's behaviour, stop them from moving freely or prevent or reduce self-harming behaviour, this may mean they are being mechanically restrained. Exceptions to this are contained in the Glossary.
Example: Rachel has a severe intellectual disability. She has a history of sucking on her hands. This has led to significant injury to her hands. In order to prevent her from sucking on her hands, Rebecca wears gloves on her hands while she is awake.
If a person uses part of his or her body to stop someone from moving freely as a way of controlling their behaviour, this may mean they are being physically restrained.
Example: David has autism and an intellectual disability. David has a set plan of things to do each day. Sometimes when these plans change David gets upset and begins to hit his ear with his fist. When he does this, support staff hold his arms down to stop him hurting himself. When David relaxes and feels comfortable again the support staff let go of David's arms.
If someone is being prevented from accessing an object that may cause harm to themselves or others, this may mean they are having his or her access to objects restricted.
Example: Ivy is a young woman who has an intellectual disability. Ivy sometimes sets fires in the house when she finds matches or lighters. To keep Ivy and other people safe in the house, the matches and lighters are kept locked away in the cupboard, which Ivy is unable to access.
If it is in the best interests of the individual and others that he or she is contained or secluded for a short period, they will need to be assessed by at least two appropriately qualified or experienced people in different fields. Usually, the regional Specialist Response Service team works with the relevant disability service provider to do this. See Glossary for meaning of assessment and appropriately qualified or experienced person, as provided by the Act.
If the adult is being physically, mechanically or chemically restrained, he or she must be assessed by at least one appropriately qualified or experienced person, except if the adult is accessing respite or community access services only.
For more information about the requirements for respite or community access services only see Operational procedure — restrictive practices for Respite or Community Access services only (full legislative scheme) restrictive practices for Respite or Community Access services only (full legislative scheme)
See Positive Futures legislation pages for more information regarding the law on the use of restrictive practices.