Ending the use of Restrictive Practices

Brooke Canham, Policy Officer at Inclusion Australia shares her thoughts on the Disability Royal Commission’s report on Ending Restrictive Practices

The Disability Royal Commission has published some new research about restrictive practices. It was written by the University of Melbourne, the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney. The report is called, Restrictive Practices: A Pathway to Elimination.

An Easy Read version of the report can be found here: Research Report – Ending restrictive practices – Easy Read version (royalcommission.gov.au)

The research report is about how we can work towards ending the use of restrictive practices.

Restrictive practices are actions that stop people from moving or doing what they want. Restrictive practices also include when someone controls another person, and when someone makes decisions about a person’s life for them. For example, how they spend their money or what healthcare they get.

We know that people with disability have negative experiences with restrictive practices, like people hurting them or making them feel scared. This can make it hard for them to speak up about their experiences. We also know that restrictive practices don’t support the rights of people with disability.

Seclusion is another example of a restrictive practice. Seclusion is when someone puts a person alone in a room or a space and stops them from leaving.

The researchers for the report wanted to make sure they included the voices of the community. They collected and reviewed data. This included facts, information and records. They also spoke with a group of experts from organisations run by people with disability. People with disability shared how restrictive practices impacted their lives and how they felt their rights had been taken away.

One thing we would like to know is whether they talked to people with intellectual disability. This is important because we know that people with intellectual disability are likely to experience restrictive practices.

Here are some examples how restrictive practice can affect people with disability:

  • People might not feel or be safe with the people who provide their care
  • People can feel scared
  • Restrictive practices take control away from people with disability
  • People might feel like they have always done something wrong
  • Restrictive practices can take away peoples human rights

The researchers made lots of recommendations about how to end restrictive practices. There were 4 main parts to their recommendations:

  1. Making restrictive practices against the law
  2. Stop using housing that keeps people with disability away from the community
  3. Governments should make sure people with disability can make their own decisions
  4. People with disability must be able to choose where their live and how they take part in the community

This research is important because people with disability don’t want to be discriminated against, they want to be treated fairly. We need to stop using restrictive practices full stop.

It is important to find better ways to support people with their behaviour and help them to claim their rights and have a voice.

We need less restrictive practices so that we can uphold the human rights of people with disability and make sure people are living inclusive lives.

New Easy Read interpretation of Uluru Statement launched as disability community unite behind Yes campaign

There has only ever been a single version of the Uluru Statement from the Heart – until today.

Led by disability representative organisations, advocates and service providers, the sector has come together with First Nations people to launch an Easy Read interpretation of the Statement in an important step towards making the statement accessible for everyone.

The Easy Read statement has been designed by First Peoples Disability Network in a consultation process with First Nations people and people with intellectual disabilities.

The new format of the Uluru Statement is an important step to increase access and understanding of the referendum for everyone.

Megan Davis, one of the architects of the original Statement says “the Uluru Statement was a carefully crafted invitation issued to all Australians to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people. It is a simple one-page call for Aussies to understand why a Voice is needed. I am overjoyed this easy read version has been created to ensure it is accessible to all Australians.”

Spokesperson for the Disability Collective for Voice and CEO of First Peoples Disability Network, Damian Griffis, said the disability community adds a unique perspective to the Voice debate.

“With four million Australians living with disability, it is incredibly important that voting is accessible – this means everything from information materials on the Voice to voting facilities.

“This is why an Easy Read interpretation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart is such a huge milestone for us – it allows the Statement to be accessible for every single Australian, allowing the level of engagement and understanding that is necessary for progress.

It comes as organisations from across the sector are joining together today in a National Day of Solidarity to support the Yes campaign for a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

First Peoples Disability Network, People with Disability Australia, Disability Advocacy Network Australia, Inclusion Australia, the Australian Disability Dialogue and members including Council for Intellectual Disability, VALiD, Life Without Barriers and Cerebral Palsy Alliance have all committed to using their networks to build awareness, understanding and reassurance on Voice and the Referendum.

“The disability community understands what it is like to have decades of barriers placed in front of you and we also know how crucial self-determination is to genuinely advance positive change.

We believe First Nations people deserve more than the status quo. The same approaches over decades have failed and we believe a Voice to Parliament will enable something much better for the future.

“As a collective, we’re determined to ensure that information on a Voice to Parliament is accessible to all groups across Australia so everyone can make an informed decision at the referendum,” Mr Griffis said.

“First Nations Peoples and, First Nations people with disabilities are overrepresented in our criminal justice system, in the child protection system and this group continues to be demonstrated in the Closing the Gap reporting for outcomes to be worsening.

“An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament has the potential to shed light on these pressing issues and provide culturally appropriate reforms to create better outcomes for all Australians including First Nations Peoples and people with lived experience of disability.

“By adding our support to the Voice to Parliament, creating accessible events and resources, culminating in a day of action, it is our hope that we can encourage people with disability, their families, carers and friends to consider what a Voice to Parliament may mean for them, and our Nation.

The release of the Easy Read statement builds on existing community-translated material on the Voice to Parliament to create a Plain English, Auslan and accessible video interpretations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and online town halls to provide information to more people in our community about the Voice to Parliament.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the founding document for a Voice to Parliament and as such, it ought to be accessible to all. It is a resounding call from the more than 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are asking us to vote Yes,” Mr Griffis said.

“Everyone deserves to understand what they are voting for and the significance of their decision. That’s why we’re undertaking this critical work, to ensure that every Australian fully understands the purpose of the vote and how to participate.”

View the new Easy Read Uluru Statement of the Heart here: Uluru-Statement-from-the-Heart-Easy-Read-Guide.pdf (haveyoursay.net)

Joint media statement – Disability rights organisations call for an End to the Violence

A group of disability rights organisations from across Australia are launching an action plan to end the violence against people with disability

On September 29th the Disability Royal Commission will hand down its final report and recommendations, which the group is hopeful will provide a blueprint to end the systemic violence people with disability face every day.  The End the Violence plan outlines some of the urgent actions government can take to demonstrate their commitment to people with disability. 

Disability Advocacy Network Australia CEO, Jeff Smith said “We heard through the Royal Commission that people with disability are more likely to experience abuse and violence compared to other Australians. This violence is often perpetrated when using health and disability services, when dealing with government organisations and the justice system.”  

First Peoples Disability Network CEO, Damian Griffis said “First Nations people with disability are more likely to have their children taken from them, more likely to end up in the justice system and those living in regional and remote areas have greater barriers to accessing support services that are culturally safe.” 

Our joint plan for action includes: 

  1. Reform systems to ensure accessible, responsive and accountable protocols and procedures to investigate, respond to and act on instances of violence, harassment and abuse.
  2. Fund frontline support to make sure people with disability are aware of their rights and supported to take action and report violence, harassment and abuse when it happens to them.
  3. Establish programs to tackle the sources of violence and address the practices that allow this systematic violence to occur. 

Inclusion Australia CEO, Catherine McAlpine said “Through the Royal Commission, we told our stories, we made the case for change and now we need to see urgent action to ensure people with disability are safe when accessing the everyday services and supports we need to live free and equal lives.” 

President of People with Disability Australia, Nicole Lee said “We know that incidences of violence, harassment and abuse are significantly underreported by people with disability. This silence is often because we don’t feel safe enough to report what is happening to us, fear that we won’t be taken seriously or simply not knowing how to speak out. The response to the Royal Commission has to deal with this and make it easier for people to report and understand our rights.” 

Children and Young People with Disability CEO, Skye Kakoschke-Moore said “Today we have launched the End the Violence campaign and are calling on all members of our disability community to write to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and ask them to work with us and to take urgent action to end the violence!”  

Organisations are: 

Inclusion Australia can be contacted for comment at: [email protected]  

The IA Policy and Projects team have been busy

The policy team gives an update on the NDIS Review and their latest submissions

We all feel very proud of the work we have done!

As well as the many consultations with people with an intellectual disability, family members and other experts, the policy team worked on different submissions to the NDIS Review, including:

Participant Safeguarding

All about what people with an intellectual disability and families have told us about how safeguards should work in the NDIS, and how to improve safeguards in peoples’ lives.

The role of pricing and payment approaches in the NDIS

All about how to make the NDIS market work better for NDIS participants.

Supporting the rights of parents with an intellectual disability

Together with the National Advocacy Collective, a group that supports the rights of parents with an intellectual disability, we made a submission all about how to make sure parents with an intellectual disability can get the parenting supports they want and need in the NDIS.

You can read all our submissions here: https://www.inclusionaustralia.org.au/advocacy/our-submissions/

More Easy Read submissions

We have also been working with our Inclusive Practice team to make our submissions into Easy Read. We hope to have all our submissions in Easy Read in the future!

To read our Easy Read submissions so far, you can click here:

Policy research and analysis

Our Policy Officers, Luke and Brooke, have also been working hard on our submissions. An important part of their work is to do policy research and analysis. That means reading research on different policy topics and making interpretations about what the research means to people with an intellectual disability and their families.

Brooke shared some insights about different issues she has been researching lately:


Everyone has the right to work and be paid a proper wage.


Voting is a basic human right and everyone has the right to make our own decisions about who to vote for—and have support to make our own decisions!

Restrictive practice

I’ve been reading about how governments should change things in the community about restrictive practices. I have been reading the research commissioned by the Disability Royal Commission and sharing my interpretations with the team.

We also want to say a big welcome to Kristen Kalkman, who has joined our team as a Project Manager. Welcome Kristen, we are thrilled to be working with you!

Making it easier for people with cognitive disabilities to take part in politics

Everyone has a right to have a say in how our communities and our country are run!

Brooke Canham and William Ward-Boas from Inclusion Australia attended the Political Inclusion National Summit in August 2023.

The two-day online event was led by Inclusion Designlab and Melbourne University with support from organisations around Australia.

People with an intellectual disability, people with acquired brain injury, researchers, human rights experts and others came together to share their experiences of being involved in politics and voting.

Event organiser Nathan Despott from Inclusion Designlab said the event was not just about voting but making sure that people with cognitive disabilities have a say in all aspects of the way that Australia is run.

People taking part heard from local and international speakers about barriers that people with cognitive disabilities face as well as initiatives to make politics more inclusive for everyone.

Brooke was invited to speak on the first day of the conference. She told everyone about her experiences of talking to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters into the 2022 Federal Election: Making it easier to vote for people with an intellectual disability – Inclusion Australia

Brooke shared what would make politics and voting easier for her, liking the idea of ‘being more included and having more choice and accountability’ . She said one way to make voting more inclusive would be getting ‘Easy Read material beforehand which will help as this will be easier for me to understand and be more included – making my vote matter!’

She said that she likes it when she can vote with a family member. However,  ‘when we are queuing to vote, a separate line for people with a disability would be helpful as queues can be stressful’. Brooke also recommended having staff available to ask for help, if needed, and extra time to make decisions before voting.

Brooke expressed that she would also like the option of, ‘an online voting system, as I wouldn’t have to leave home, and I could take my time.’

William attended day two of the conference, which focused on future plans.

William reflected that there ‘were fantastic ideas talked about such as accessible formats of voting with Easy Read, having a person explain how to vote and guide through the process and how people with disability are treated because of preconceptions.’

He enjoyed discussions about how training is necessary in disability awareness, First Nations, LGBTQIA+ as well as the need for more cultural awareness training. William and Brooke told the summit that more accessible information is needed for the 2023 referendum about The Voice so everyone can have their voice heard.

William and Brooke agreed that the summit discussed some great ways to fill the gaps between politics and inclusion.

The summit also discussed next steps and ideas for the future, such as doing a campaign, a plan to make change and a project about Political Inclusion, so watch this space!