Mental health service staff and patients experience high levels of conflict events such as aggression, violence and absconding. Often, in response to these events, restrictive practice such as containment and restraint may be used.

The objective of the Safewards model is to reduce conflict and containment within mental health services. The model attempts to identify and address the causes of behaviours in staff and patients that may result in harm, such as violence, self-harm or absconding and reduce the likelihood of this occurring.

Originating in the UK and implemented internationally, the Safewards model was developed from a broad body of evidence, including several large scale research studies conducted over a number of years. A review of more than 1000 additional studies reported from around the world were synthesised into the model.  A randomised controlled trial of the model was able to establish a decline in conflict at each of the sites using the Safewards model. 

In Victoria, Safewards was trialled across 7 services (18 units) over one year. It was extensively evaluated by the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing, University of Melbourne with significant and positive results.

The purpose of the Safewards Victoria project is to consolidate the initiatives from the Safewards trial and to expand the implementation of Safewards to all public mental health services across Victoria. 

Our aim is to reduce and, where possible, eliminate the use of restrictive interventions by implementing an evidenced based model of care.

The Safewards Victoria  statewide implementation was formally launched at the first Safewards Victoria Forum in Melbourne on 15 September 2016.

In October 2016, the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority in partnership with The Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse committed to a 4 year program to consolidate the implementation of Safewards in the trial sites and to expand the implementation of Safewards to all public mental health services across Victoria, with further trialing of the Safewards model at emergency departments, and acute medical or surgical inpatient units in the later years of the program.