South Australians with disability to have a greater say over restrictive practices

Posted 3 years ago by Emily Erickson

South Australians living with disability will be better protected and have a greater say under new laws that provide extra safeguards on the use of restrictive practices.

State Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink introduced legislation to Parliament earlier this month to establish a new authorisation regime that ensures restrictive practices are used only as a last resort and in consultation with the person with disability or their guardian.

“This legislation strengthens protections for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants of all ages and gives people with disability a stronger voice about how they are safely supported,” says Minister Lensink.

“It also removes the ambiguity currently faced by NDIS providers.”

Restrictive practices are regulated under the NDIS Act and can include anything from minor safety changes in the home such as a lock on a cupboard, through to a need to physically restrain someone’s movement.

The legislative change introduces a new authorisation process for NDIS providers, aligning South Australia with the national principles regarding restrictive practices.

The authorisation scheme will apply a risk-based process where:

  • Low-level, less intrusive restrictive practices, such as environmental restraint (e.g. locked cupboards), may be authorised by an approved authorised officer within an NDIS provider; and

  • High-level, more intrusive restrictive practices, such as physical restraint, can only be authorised by the Senior Authorising Officer in the South Australian Department of Human Services (DHS) or by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

Minister Lensink says people with lived experience and NDIS providers were and will continue to be consulted.

“The rights, dignity and safety of people living with complex disabilities must be at the core of decision-making on the use of restrictive practices,” she says. 

“This new legislation will enable NDIS providers to fulfil their duty of care to staff and ensure participants are not at risk of harm to themselves or others, while reducing reliance on the use of restrictive practices over time.”

The South Australian Government committed $5.8 million over four years in the 2020-21 State Budget to establish the scheme, including creation of a new restrictive practice authorisation unit that will work with and educate NDIS providers.