National Seclusion and Restraint Project

In 2005, all Australian Governments agreed to act to reduce and where possible to eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint of people with mental health issues. Despite this, through our consultations, Seclusion and Restraint have consistently been raised as issues that people want something done about. They are raised by people with lived experience of mental health issues and their families, as well as service providers and policy makers.

The Commission is leading a national project to look at best practice in reducing and eliminating the seclusion and restraint of people with mental health issues and to help identify good practice approaches.

The National Seclusion and Restraint Project extends beyond the health and hospital system and facilities (such as inpatient units and emergency departments) and includes the use of seclusion and restraint in community, custodial and ambulatory settings and by first responders. Hearing from people who have a lived experience is an important part of the research for the national project.

You can find our more about the project and sign up for updates on the project website.

How you can get involved

Sign up to the Seclusion and Restraint Declaration

Late last year we launched the Seclusion and Restraint Declaration to encourage people to show their support for reducing and eliminating seclusion and restraint. We are encouraged by the response from individuals and organisations that have signed the Declaration and committed to being part of driving change. View the signatories here.

If you haven’t already, we encourage you to sign the Seclusion and Restraint Declaration.

Other ways you can get involved:

  • Display your Declaration around your home or office. Download the Declaration
  • Show your support via social media. Here is a suggested social media post.
  • Discuss the issues with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to sign the Declaration. 

National Seclusion and Restraint Survey 

The survey is now closed. More than 1000 responses were received from the survey. Data collected from the survey will be used alongside focus groups and the direct input of people with lived experience, their families, friends and supporters as well as service providers, workforce interest groups and first responders. 

The results of this research will have important implications for policy development and will better inform the debate surrounding the use of seclusion and restraint. The Commission thanks everyone who told their story.

Who we are working with?

Project Partners

The project is in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Australian partners, including the Safety and Quality Partnerships Standing Committee, Australian Human Rights Commission (with previous involvement from former Disability and Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes), and the involvement of state mental health commissions.

Project Team 

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Melbourne headed up by Professor Bernadette McSherry is undertaking research into the extent of seclusion and restraint in Australia and comparable countries. The results of this research will provide examples of successful strategies used in the reduction and elimination of these practices.

Read the biographies of the Project Team

Read a presentation from Professor Bernadette McSherry

Core Reference Group (CRG)

In 2013, the Commission formed a Core Reference Group (CRG) of experts which includes people with lived experience and their families, clinicians and people working in services, as well as human rights, legal and disability advocates.

View a list of the CRG members

Meeting minutes 24 June 2013 PDF 69KB

Meeting minutes 05 August 2013 PDF 116KB

Meeting minutes 08 October 2013 PDF 185KB 

"Even the most disadvantaged Australians should be able to lead a 'contributing life,' whatever that means for them and this simple goal will be our touchstone and yardstick."

Chair Prof Allan Fels AO
National Mental Health Commission

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