This discussion paper presents some of the key issues surrounding the use of restrictive interventions for people with a cognitive impairment or mental illness.
The paper provides the legislative context for the use of restrictive interventions in Victoria, reviews the factors associated with their use and raises three key areas for reform.
In this paper, restrictive interventions are defined as the deliberate or unconscious use of coercive power to restrain or limit an individual’s freedom of action or movement. These include chemical, environmental, mechanical and physical restraint, and seclusion.
The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) is an independent statutory body with legislative powers under Victoria’s Guardianship and Administration Act 1986. OPA is dedicated to upholding the rights and interests of Victorians with a cognitive impairment or mental illness, and works to eliminate abuse, neglect and exploitation. OPA addresses this mission through a variety of advocacy, guardianship and investigation services. OPA also undertakes research and policy work that aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
OPA’s Advocate/Guardian Program provides guardianship, investigation and individual advocacy services to people with a cognitive impairment or mental illness. Guardianship orders and referrals for investigation are made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986. The advocacy component of the Advocate/Guardian program derives its authority from the powers given to the Public Advocate under the same Act. Restrictive interventions are a key issue facing OPA Advocate/Guardians.