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Seclusion - mental health legislation

The NSW Act has the narrowest grounds for authorising seclusion: ‘to manage the risk of serious imminent harm only when appropriate, safe alternative options have been considered and trialled.’ Other Acts also authorise seclusion on other grounds such as absconding, persistently destroying property and facilitating treatment. The SA Act has the widest grounds, although it is accompanied by a non-mandatory guideline that narrows them considerably.

The Acts also vary substantially in respect to who may authorise seclusion, who must be notified, and the length of time seclusion can be applied.

*The Qld Act also refers to ‘emergency seclusion’, which may be authorised for one hour by a health practitioner if there is no other reasonably practicable way to protect the patient or others from physical harm. An authorised doctor must be notified as soon as practicable.

Disclaimer: These tables have been developed by the RANZCP as at 30 June 2017 in order to allow key provisions in the mental health Acts to be compared. They are intended for reference purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for legal or clinical advice.