Understanding the impact of the roadmap for achieving dignity without restraint for people with disabilities

Dr Raelene West1, Assoc. Prof. Paul Ramcharan1

1RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

This research project, the Roadmap, was implemented in Victoria given that data in their comprehensive RIDS data system showed that the number of restrictive practices still being utilised on people with disabilities within the disability service field remain high. Existing research shows that the most effective means of practice change are whole of organisation change management strategies, in this case expanding organisational and frontline staff knowledge and awareness of operationalisation of restrictive practices.

Based on human rights perspectives, the Roadmap provided a training day to frontline DSWs and managers of 7 disability service provider organisations on use-misuse of restrictive practices. The training day utilised three separate knowledge sessions – the first based on choice, rights and risk discussions, the second on NDS films and the third on the NDS Empowerment Circle. Knowledge, practice change and awareness of 128 DSWs on restrictive practices was then measured across 12 months at 3 time intervals to measure effectiveness of the training intervention.

Although there was initial positive change following the Roadmap training day, such as increased motivation and awareness by DSWs, the training intervention was insufficient to embed organisational change in any suitable way. Some improvement in practice was evident at a localised level, but the practice changes were not broadly consistent across participating organisations nor was it possible to isolate that changes were solely an outcome of the Roadmap intervention

As a workforce strategy, whilst there is some evidence that a single day training approach can reduce restrictive practices through increasing knowledge awareness of DSWs frontline staff at localised levels, it is evident that organisational cultural change takes consistent and ongoing engagement with provider organisation, and ongoing theory and in-the-field practice support and training.


Raelene West is a social researcher at the Social and Global Studies Centre (SGSC), RMIT University. Her research areas include examination of support service frameworks for People with Disabilities and Older Persons, Ableism, Critical Disability Studies and Human Rights. She has a PhD in Sociology and Disability and has authored papers and contributed to reports on marketisation within the NDIS service provider space, individualised funding, disability workforce and impacts on emerging online uber-style service markets.

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