Office of the Senior Practitioner
The Community Services Directorate has recently finalised consultation on the proposed authorising model, powers and functions of the new ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner.
The Quality, Complaints and Regulation Branch is currently working to establish a new ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner (OSP) for the reduction and elimination of restrictive practices.
The ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner is being established as part of the ACT Government’s commitment to improving the lives of all people who are vulnerable and potentially subject to restrictive practices, as well as supporting and upholding their human rights. The ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will also enable the ACT Government to meet its commitments under the National Framework for Reducing and Eliminating the Use of Restrictive Practices in the Disability Sector and the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework
The new office aims to provide leadership and oversight across a range of services where restrictive practices may be used, with the goal of avoiding, reducing and eliminating those practices in favour of positive alternatives that preserve the individual person’s rights and freedoms.
Plans to establish an ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner have been informed by extensive community consultation, which will continue over coming months. Between November 2016 and June 2017, consultants JFA Purple Orange heard from more than 70 key stakeholders about how an ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner might operate. Valuable feedback was provided by individual community members, as well as representatives of peak bodies, advocacy groups, service provider organisations, government and statutory agencies. The final report by JFA Purple Orange is available below.
There is currently no legislation that provides for a Senior Practitioner or similar body to oversee the use of restrictive practices in the ACT. In line with the recommendations of the consultant’s final report (June 2017), it is proposed that a Bill be drafted for specific ACT legislation to establish and operationalise an ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner.
The new ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner is expected to commence operation in July 2018.
What is a restrictive practice?
A “restrictive practice” is defined as any practice or intervention that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person. It may include, for example, the use of chemical, physical or mechanical restraint or seclusion.
These practices are usually undertaken with the primary purpose of protecting the person or others from harm. Some groups in the ACT community, including people with disability, older people, people living with mental illness, children and young people, and people intersecting with the justice system, are more likely to be subjected to restrictive practices to manage behaviours that are seen as challenging.
What will the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner do?
The ACT Senior Practitioner will hold a senior position in the ACT Government, commensurate with the functions and powers of the new office.
A key aspect of the Senior Practitioner’s role will be to work closely with the ACT community to provide education and improve awareness about restrictive practices. The ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will produce and disseminate policies, standards, and guidelines to promote best practice, lead sector capacity building and improve awareness to minimise or eliminate their use.
Where the use of restrictive practices is deemed to be necessary, in the context of a broader positive behaviour support plan, there will likely be a mechanism for the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner to capture, record and authorise the use of that practice.
The proposed authorising model, powers and functions of the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will likely be set out in specific legislation. The legislation will be informed by stakeholder feedback received during the recent consultation period, which ended on 7 March 2018.
In order to meet commitments under the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework, the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will need to review and monitor the use of restrictive practices in all disability services in the ACT and work to reduce their use.
While the initial focus of the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will be on services provided to people with a disability, it is envisaged the Senior Practitioner will monitor, authorise and/or disallow the use of restrictive practices in a range of settings. The legislation will likely have a broad scope to capture all people who are vulnerable and potentially subject to restrictive practices in disability services, schools and other education settings, out-of-home care, community mental health, and non-Commonwealth funded community aged care.
The powers of the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will not extend to clinical mental health and detention (including the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre), which have other specific oversight arrangements already in place.
Opportunities to be involved
CSD appreciates the feedback received from a broad range of stakeholders so far, which will inform the development of specific ACT legislation to establish and operationalise the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner.
The formal consultation period closed on 7 March 2018. However, as the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner will have strong links to the community, the Community Services Directorate will be continuing to engage with key stakeholders over coming months, in the lead up to the Bill being introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly, and as the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner is rolled out.
In the meantime, all enquiries and feedback about the ACT Office of the Senior Practitioner can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org