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Regulation of restrictive interventions in EDs, UCCs to change from April

Regulation of restrictive interventions in EDs, UCCs to change from April

When the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (the Act) came into force in September 2023, regulation of restrictive interventions in emergency departments and urgent care centres of designated mental health services was deferred until 31 March 2024 to give staff more time to prepare for the operational changes.

As of 1 April 2024, the Act’s obligations and reporting requirements for the regulation of restrictive interventions will come into force in EDs and UCCs in designated mental health services, aligning legislation on restrictive interventions in these settings with the rest of Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system.

Under the Act, the use of all restrictive interventions – bodily restraint, chemical restraint and seclusion – are reportable to the Chief Psychiatrist.

All staff in designated mental health services will be required to:

  • implement the provisions set out in the Act and apply these to ED and UCC settings
  • understand, by 1 April, mandatory reporting requirements and the Chief Psychiatrist’s expectations of best practice when using restrictive interventions outlined in the interim clinical guideline
  • be able to determine when a person is receiving a mental health and wellbeing service and apply the requirements of the Act accordingly
  • comply with and give ‘proper consideration’ to the mental health and wellbeing principles and the decision-making principles set out in the Act. This includes requirements that decision- makers:
    • aim to reduce the use of restrictive interventions, and eventually eliminate the use of restrictive interventions in mental health treatment
    • use restrictive interventions as a last resort after less restrictive options have been tried or considered
    • give ‘proper consideration’ to the mental health and wellbeing principles in the Act, including when considering if a restrictive intervention is required, and throughout the use of a restrictive intervention
    • place consumers at the centre of decision-making regarding their care and treatment, in consultation with their treating team, and involve carers, families and supporters in this process
    • adhere to the principles requiring consumers and carers to be treated with respect and dignity.

Your designated mental health service employers are required to:

  • implement necessary changes and update local policies, procedures and systems to enable reporting
  • complement education and resources provided by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist (OCP) as needed, including locally through use of the resources of Act Implementation Leads
  • work proactively to support staff working in EDs and UCCs be aware of their legislative obligations under the Act ahead of their commencement from 1 April 2024.

New clinical guidelines on restrictive interventions now available

The Chief Psychiatrist’s advance final guidelines for restrictive interventions include information relevant for emergency departments and urgent care centres, and are now available from the OCP’s website.

Workforce information sessions

From Friday 8 March, the OCP is holding information sessions designed and targeted to all staff working in emergency departments and urgent care centres of DMHS in Victoria. These sessions will be presented by Dr David Huppert, Acting Chief Psychiatrist, and clinical staff from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.

There is no need to register; just jump online using the links below.

Resource guide

Educational resources

A new eLearning module on Restrictive Interventions will be available in mid-March. In the meantime, staff in EDs and UCCs of DMHS can access the existing modules on the new Act via the Mental Health Professional Online Development program. You will need to create a login and search for ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022’.

Have a question about the upcoming changes?

In the first instance, speak with your line manager to get a better understanding of how these changes will be applied within your health service. You can also get in touch with your local Authorised Psychiatrist and MHW Act Implementation Lead.