Media Release by Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC

Historic collaboration to address inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP
    Minister for Health and Aged Care

    Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck
    Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
    Minister for Sport


The Morrison Government has today welcomed the first ever formal joint statement on the inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC), the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).

The three Commissions have released the joint statement to better address the inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines such as mood stabilizers and sedatives in people with disability and older people as a form of restrictive practice, and committed to collaborative action to reduce it.

The use of psychotropic medicines can be appropriate for treating, or enabling the treatment of a diagnosed mental disorder or a physical illness or physical condition. However, using psychotropic medicines to influence or control the behaviour of people who exhibit behaviours of concern, is a restrictive practice and is subject to regulatory oversight.

“Reducing and minimising the use of restrictive practices, except where absolutely necessary, remains a key focus for the NDIS,” said Minister Reynolds.

“Today’s landmark joint statement will ensure NDIS participant’s rights to choice and control are protected, improve their quality of life and lead to more positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all Australians with disability.

“This critical collaboration by the three commissions follows extensive work by the Morrison Government over recent years to establish a quality and safeguards framework for the disability sector and to better understand and collect data on the use of restrictive practices,” Minister Reynolds said.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified an over-reliance on chemical restraint as a priority concern in aged care.

“The work of the ACQSC, NDIS Commission and ACSQHC on the use of psychotropic medicines will help to strengthen action already taken by the Government in this area to ensure senior Australians receive the care they expect and deserve,” Minister Colbeck said.

The ACQSC has developed a series of resources to support the aged care sector since new requirements were introduced regarding the use of restrictive practices in aged care in July and September 2021.

“The resources developed by the ACQSC are important to help providers to understand their obligation to ensure that restraints, including psychotropic medications, are only used as a last resort.” Minister Colbeck said.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said Psychotropics have a place in health care but they should only be used according to accepted medical practice, with the health and wellbeing of people in aged or disability care settings being our paramount consideration.

“The collaboration to reduce inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines across the three sectors where people with disability and older people receive care, is ground-breaking. It can provide a real opportunity and impetus for the type of systemic change highlighted by both the Disability Royal Commission and the Aged Care Royal Commission,” Minister Hunt said.

The ACSQHC is committed to high quality and safe health care for all Australians, this includes improving outcomes in the health care of older people and people with disability through appropriate prescribing, dispensing and administration of psychotropic medicines. The ACSQHC will do this by gathering intelligence on the inappropriate use of antipsychotics through the Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation series, and analysing that information to provide national clinical guidance across the health sector.

Further information can be found in a joint statement on the ACQSC, NDIS Commission and ACSQHC’s respective websites.