The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability commissioned the Social Policy Research Centre (UNSW) to review academic literature about ways to reduce the use of restrictive practices on people with disability. The review was guided by two research questions:

  1. What alternatives to restrictive practices have an evidence base that demonstrates reduced use and/or elimination of restricted practices on people with disability?
  2. Is there an evidence base that demonstrates positive behaviour support plans, when used in response to ‘behaviours of concern’, have resulted in a reduced use of restrictive practices on people with disability?

To answer the research questions and inform policy, practice and future research, the researchers adopted an exploratory approach. This involved broadly scoping scholarly research, evaluations, and policy documents to understand the nature and extent of evidence, and evidence gaps. To capture the most recent and relevant information, they focused mainly, but not exclusively, on studies from Australia, New Zealand, North America, the UK, and other OECD countries, published between 2012 and 2022. The authors of this report focused on alternatives to restrictive practices, as per the research questions, and did not examine the vast, adjacent literature about therapeutic supports which may prevent distress among people with disability and thereby reduce the perceived need for restrictive interventions.

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