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NDIS service providers need to fully understand their responsibilities regarding the use of restrictive practices, ensuring that the rights and freedom of people with disability that they support remain protected.

What is a restrictive practice?

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission defines restrictive practices as:

"Restrictive practice means any practice or intervention that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person with disability."

There are different types of restrictive practices, however, the NSW Government has embraced the five different forms of regulated restrictive practices outlined by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

They are as follows:

  1. Seclusion
  2. Physical restraint
  3. Mechanical restraint
  4. Chemical restraint (includes regular use of medication)
  5. Environmental restraint

All restrictive practices outlined above are to be used only when necessary (when there is a risk of harm) and for the shortest time possible.

To use regulated restrictive practices on someone you support, you must ensure that you:

  • Have authorisation and consent for the use of a restrictive practice
  • Act in accordance with the NSW restrictive practices Policy and Procedural guide
  • Have the restrictive practice clearly outlined in a behavior support plan

These requirements are put in place to ensure that the rights and freedom of people with disability remain protected.

The video below provides an excellent summary of restricted practices and the process of obtaining authorisation for their use in NSW.

What is a behavior support plan?

A behavior support plan is a strategy based plan that is developed in consultation with the person with disability, their family and carers to increase the person with disability’s quality of life. It is also one of the documents required in the submission process for attaining authorisation for the use of restricted practices.

Note: A behavior support plan that includes and outlines any of the regulated restricted practices must be lodged with the NDIS Commission.

Where to apply for authorisation

In NSW, submissions for the use of a restricted practice must be placed with the Family and Community Services (FACS) Restrictive Practices Authorisation (RPA) Portal. This portal is where the relevant documents can be uploaded to (e.g. behavior support plan) and is where the RPA panel will receive and then review the submission.

Once the submission outcome has been given, the applying NDIS service provider will also need to upload the application outcome to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission within three days of receiving the outcome.

Overview of the RPA Panel Process

Note: Authorisation for the use of restricted practices is only approved for up to 12 months.

What if I need authorisation quickly?

In some cases, the time required for the authorisation of the use of restricted practices may be an issue. In this instance, interim authorisation can be given by a senior manager at your NDIS service provider workplace.

An interim behavior support plan needs to be completed and submitted to the senior manager within one month of the first use of the restricted practice. The senior manager will determine the appropriate time for the authorisation of the interim behavior support plan and the restrictive practices it outlines, which can be given for no longer than five months. Also, you still need to request authorisation and submit a full behavior support plan to the FACS RPA portal within six months of the interim authorisation being approved.


Useful resources:

RPA Portal (includes list of restrictive practices resources)
Restrictive Practice Easy Read Guide
RPA Authorisation Policy
RPA Authorisation Procedural Guide
Overview of the RPA Panel Process
About Behaviour Support

All information has been sourced from the abovementioned ‘useful resources’ links and the FACS RPA Overview video.