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Information on seclusion in public mental health facilities has today been made available on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) Mental Health Services in Australia website.

Seclusion is defined as confinement at any time of the day or night alone in a room or area from which free exit is prevented.

'This is the first time national seclusion information has been made available in Australia, and it shows that seclusion rates are falling,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.

Reducing the use of seclusion is a national priority for mental health, and was formally endorsed by health ministers in the National safety priorities in mental health: a national plan for reducing harm.

Initiatives were implemented through Australian mental health pilot sites to progress this priority as part of the National Mental Health Seclusion and Restraint (Beacon Site) Project 2007-09. The project resulted in positive changes for reducing the use of restrictive practices in mental health services.

'Seclusion rates fell from 15.6 events per 1,000 bed days in public acute hospital services to 10.6 seclusion events per 1,000 bed days between 2008-09 and 2011-12,' Dr Kinnear said.

Nationally, child and adolescent units had a higher rate of seclusion events (20.9 per 1,000 bed days) compared with general units (11.9) in 2011-12.

And seclusion rates have not fallen in recent years for child and adolescent units.

Work is currently underway to investigate whether states and territories can routinely supply data on restrictive practices in line with agreed national definitions.

The AIHW's Mental Health Services in Australia website is available at http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 17 July 2013

For further information on seclusion data: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

For general information about seclusion practices in Australia: Assoc Prof John Allan, Chair of the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC) Safety & Quality Partnership Standing Committee, tel. (02) 6205 4395