Unshackling Paediatrics


A prominent professor at the Royal Children’s Hospital, who would rather remain anonymous, recently disclosed, “One day we will look back and say what we did to children was barbaric.” Physical and chemical restraint is commonplace in paediatrics, and yet there is a plethora of articles in medical and psychological literature detailing the negative long-term outcomes and advocating for the minimisation of pain and anxiety for young children having medical procedures. Startlingly, contrary to increasing awareness of the trauma inflicted by force and physical violence, there is no social taboo against the ‘Hold ‘em down and get it over with’ method, thus denying an essential role of both health care and parenting: to protect children and provide a safe environment. A knowing-doing gap exists in every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Today, we’ll hear from the patient and parent perspective, and thoroughly examine the techniques we can employ to free our patients from the shackles of physical and chemical restraint.


Dr Stephen Spencer

Dr Stephen Spencer is a mental health nurse and has worked in the areas of acute and forensic adult mental health, and child and adolescent mental health. His PhD research project focussed on responses and interventions for acute adolescent distress. His clinical experience includes Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Nexus Acute Child and Adolescent inpatient unit, Paediatric Consultation Liaison Services and Clinical Nurse Education. Stephen teaches in the Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Nursing programs at the University of Newcastle. He is trained in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychosis, and is a current member of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

Dr Liz Bishop

Dr Liz Bishop is a Senior Lecturer at the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights at Monash University, lecturing in law, ethics and human rights in health at both under and post graduate levels. She is also mother to two boys with severe haemophilia which has led to her interest in trauma and the rights of the child in treatment settings.