Royal Commission hearing into use of psychotropic medications and behaviours of concern

This public hearing will examine use of psychotropic medication as a chemical restraint. A chemical restraint occurs when medication is not used to treat a diagnosed mental disorder, a physical illness or a physical condition but used for the purpose of influencing a person’s behaviour.

One witness will tell the Royal Commission:

“Adults with intellectual disability have long been one of the most medicated groups in society with psychotropic drugs commonly prescribed. Psychotropic medications are frequently used to manage challenging behaviour, raising concerns that their prescription is not linked to the diagnosis of mental illness.”

The Royal Commission will hear the concerns of witnesses with lived-experience, health professionals and advocates, including:

  • the need to understand behaviour as a form of communication
  • over-reliance on chemical restraint as a first response to a person’s behaviours of concern
  • when psychotropic medications should be used to treat person’s health needs
  • the misuse or overdosing of psychotropic medication for the purposes of behavioural control
  • the side-effects of psychotropic medications
  • strategies such as positive behaviour support and better communication to support persons with a disability who may experience behaviours of concern.

Witnesses will tell the Royal Commission how chemical restraints impair a person’s human rights and freedoms.

“This hearing will examine the need for effective safeguards and national laws to prevent inappropriate use of psychotropic medications to manage a person’s behaviour” a spokesperson for the Royal Commission said.

The sixth public hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will take place at the Fair Work Commission from September 22.

Royal Commission Chair, Mr Ronald Sackville AO QC will preside, alongside Ms Roslyn Atkinson AO, (in Brisbane), and Mr Alastair McEwin AM.

The hearing will not be open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, but will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission website from 10am (AEST).

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