Department of Health

Developing a strategy towards elimination of seclusion and restraint

Sensitive content warning: Please be aware this content refers to the use of restrictive interventions (also referred to as ‘restrictive practices’ or ‘seclusion and restraint’) in mental health and wellbeing service delivery and may be upsetting.

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The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended the Victorian Government work towards eliminating seclusion and restraint in mental health and wellbeing service delivery within the next 10 years.  

To support this goal, the Royal Commission recommended the Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing develop and lead a strategy which aims to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint (Recommendation 54.3). 

The strategy will drive change in three key areas: 

  1. improve accountability for, and transparency of, the use of restrictive interventions  
  2. lead and support changes in workforce practice, and 
  3. ensure the voice of consumers informs planning and implementation. 

The strategy will guide future actions towards the elimination of seclusion and restraint. It will build on the significant work underway to reduce restrictive interventions and improve the quality and safety of mental health and wellbeing service delivery across Victoria. 

Engagement on the strategy 

Engagement with the mental health sector and the community is critical to the development of the strategy. 

We encourage participation by people who have experienced, felt at risk of experiencing, witnessed, administered or influenced decisions about restrictive interventions. This includes consumers, carers, families and supporters, service providers, and the workforce (including clinical and non-clinical staff).  

There are many opportunities to participate in development of the strategy between September 2022 and June 2023, outlined in the engagement calendar below.

Principles for communication and engagement 

The following principles will underpin communication and engagement activities throughout development of the strategy: 

  • adjust for power imbalances: we commit to centring the experiences of people who have been secluded and/or restrained 
  • humanity: we engage with compassion and sensitivity and treat others how we would like to be treated
  • purposeful: we know why and who we are engaging 
  • prepared: we take history and experiences into account, and we engage early 
  • genuine: we are true to our word and put people and communities first 
  • inclusive: we provide meaningful opportunities and support to enable participation to hear from diverse perspectives 
  • communicate: we provide regular updates and complete the feedback loop 
  • human rights: we apply a human rights lens across all communication and engagement moments 
  • cultural safety: we create culturally safe spaces for people to engage on their own terms 
  • acknowledge trauma: we premise all engagement on recognition of trauma, including of people who have experienced, witnessed and administered restrictive interventions 
  • learn from the past: we acknowledge that we are building on a significant program of work to reduce restrictive interventions in Victoria, and commit to harnessing this knowledge and experience.

Engagement calendar

Engagement opportunity Timeline 
An External Working Group will meet monthly and develop specific elements of the strategy using co-design principles. The group will be recruited via an Expression of Interest process (closed September 2022) and will consist of people who have experience with seclusion and restraint, and who bring a range of lived and living experience, workforce and policy perspectives. Commencing in the last quarter of 2022 
Consumers, carers/families/supporters and the workforce will be able to provide input through online surveys. Surveys will be completed anonymously, with peer support available for consumers. To be confirmed
Consumers can share their perspectives in 1:1 consumer interview. Expressions of Interest (EOI) will be sought and consumers will be randomly selected to participate in up to 50 interviews. Interviews will be conducted by Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), with support from Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). To be confirmed
Anyone can make a submission through Engage Victoria. All Victorians are invited to submit their thoughts on targeted questions about ways to eliminate seclusion and restraint To be confirmed
Focus groups will be brought together to explore specific issues in depth. Upcoming opportunities to participate in workshops will be publicised on this webpage, via newsletter updates, and via our partners. To be confirmed
Up to two symposiums are under consideration. These will give all partners and stakeholders the opportunity to collectively participate in development of the strategy and provide feedback on the strategy draft. To be confirmed 

Reviewed 10 October 2022

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