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Royal Commission to examine psychotropic medication, behaviour support and behaviours of concern

The use of psychotropic medication in response to behaviours of concern in people with disability is to be examined by the Disability Royal Commission at its next public hearing beginning on Tuesday 22 September.

Psychotropic medication is an umbrella term used to refer to any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions or behaviour, including anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood stabilisers.

The extent of reliance on such medication and its effects on the health and wellbeing of people with disability is likely to come under scrutiny at the Royal Commission’s sixth public hearing.

The Royal Commission will also examine other types of responses to behaviours of concern, including behaviour support.

“When a person with disability engages in behaviours that put themselves and/or others at risk of harm, this is referred to as ‘behaviours of concern’,” Royal Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said.

“In addition to describing the circumstances in which psychotropic medication is used, witnesses are expected to give evidence about the regulatory frameworks for the use of psychotropic medication as a chemical restraint, a form of restrictive practice.

“Restrictive practices in a range of settings more broadly are the subject of ongoing inquiry by the Royal Commission,” Mr Sackville said.

Senior Counsel Assisting the hearing will be Ms Kate Eastman SC, with Dr Hayley Bennett and Ms Melinda Zerner.

The hearing will be held at the premises of the Fair Work Commission in Sydney, however, it will not be open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. The hearing will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission website from 10am (AEST).