Restrictive Practices

The Restrictive Practices policy is not in force and the following content is subject to change.

On 24 April 2023, the Secretary announced the Restrictive Practices policy will now become fully operational from Day 1, Term 1, 2025, instead of the start of 2024.

This means that schools do not need to undertake further familiarisation activities for the remainder of the year. Implementation of the policy will recommence in 2024.

The department will continue to collaborate with our partners and stakeholders throughout 2023, to make sure the guidance around restrictive practices will support our schools to continue keeping students and staff safe.

The department remains deeply committed to the national goal to reduce and eliminate the unnecessary or inappropriate use of restrictive practices in our schools, wherever possible. An updated implementation roadmap will be released later this year and we will keep schools updated on any changes.

Until then, we ask schools show their usual care by continuing to:

  • ensure that prohibited practices are not used. These are practices that are already not allowed under existing policy and legislative obligations.
  • act in line with duty of care to keep students and staff safe.
  • undertake planning to meet the individual health, safety and wellbeing needs of students, and consult with parents/carers wherever possible.
  • follow existing health care procedures when planning to use prescribed medications during school hours.
  • follow existing departmental policies when responding to incidents that impact the health, safety and/or wellbeing of students and staff.

A restrictive practice is any action that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person, with the primary purpose of protecting the person or others from harm.

Students may need different types of intervention or support to best meet their needs. This may also include the use of restrictive practices, however, when this is discussed and a plan is agreed in advance, the rights, safety and freedom of students is protected, as well as the safety of staff and other students.

Safety and respect

The safety of every child and young person in our schools is our top priority. When a student feels safe they are free to achieve the most out of life at school.

Ensuring the safety of every student, teacher and staff while respecting the rights or freedom of movement of students requires a balanced approach that is supported by the Restrictive Practices Framework and Restrictive Practices Reduction and Elimination Policy, as well as Restrictive Practices Planning Procedures.

The informed and principle-based use of restrictive practices means that restrictive practices are used safely and effectively, and it is clear which practices are never permitted in our schools.

The NSW Government has committed to the national goal of reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices. This includes making it clear that some prohibitive practices should never be used with students.

Introducing the new Restrictive Practices Policy, Framework and Procedures

Voice over

The NSW Government is committed to protecting the rights, safety and freedom of children and young people. 

We are working towards reducing and eliminating restrictive practices in public schools and government pre-schools. 

A restrictive practice is any action that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person, with the primary purpose of protecting the person or others from harm.  

Restrictive practices should only be used as a last resort when necessary to meet the health, safety and wellbeing needs of a student and to protect the safety of other students and staff. 

Restrictive practices should be person centred, the least restrictive option for the shortest time, reduced and eliminated where possible, monitored, and reviewed regularly.  

Schools must plan the use of restrictive practices unless it is an emergency or crisis situation, or response to unintentional behaviour.  

Planning should be done in consultation with the student and their family, as well as relevant specialists. 

Prohibited practices interfere with basic human rights. They are unethical and may be unlawful.   

The use of prohibited practices is never allowed in our schools and government preschools. 

For more about restrictive practices, go to our website.

Frequently asked questions

Sometimes, to help keep a child or young person healthy and safe at school, we need to limit or restrict some of their actions. These limits are called restrictive practices. In our schools, restrictive practices include anything we do to keep someone safe that also restricts a child or young person’s rights or freedom of movement. For example, supports, including harnesses, pelvic belts, trays, or disability specific postural supports, or medication prescribed by a doctor to influence a student's movement or behaviour, including their mood.

These practices can only be used if they have been recommended or prescribed by doctors or specialist allied health professionals, unless it is an emergency or crisis.

When used in the right way, restrictive practices can support students to access and engage in their learning and make school safer for the student and others.

Our staff care deeply about the safety and wellbeing of their students. However, until now, the department has not provided clear guidance on the use of restrictive practices in our schools and restrictive practices have been used in inconsistent ways.

We are committed to the national goal of reducing and eliminating the use of restrictive practices, to ensure our students continue to be safe, respected and protected.

This is because restrictive practices impinge on the rights and freedoms of children and young people, even if they are necessary to keep them safe.

Child protection is at the heart of the framework and policy. The policy clarifies how restrictive practices can be used in schools, to protect the rights of students so that restrictive practices are not used in the wrong way.

If your child needs a restrictive practice to keep them healthy and safe at school, school staff will work together with you and your child to understand their needs and plan how the school will meet those needs.

You will need to provide information about any restrictive practice that has been recommended or prescribed. This could include a letter from a doctor, a report from a relevant professional like an occupational therapist or psychologist, or important information about how to use a restrictive practice safely.

The school will keep detailed records of the planning process, the planned restrictive practice, the evidence you provided, and your consent to the use of a restrictive practice.

The approach for supporting your child will be reviewed regularly by the school, in consultation with you. The school will work with you to adjust plans to continue meeting your child’s needs over time.


  • Student management and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
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