What is Positive Behaviour Support?

Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is the preferred approach of behaviour support in Australia and internationally. In Australia, it is the recommended approach for behaviour support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Positive Behaviour Support is often called Behaviour Support for short.

Behaviour Support may be recommended when a person with disability has behaviour that creates difficulties for them and the people that support them. 

Behaviour Support aims to improve the quality of life of the person and of the people who support them. Improving quality of life means doing more of the things that are important to you and make you happy.  It aims to do this by improving the environment that the person is in and developing the skills of the person and the people around them.

Behaviour Support involves the person and people who know them well. The person is at the centre and should be involved in the decisions about their Behaviour Support.  Their support people also play an important role as they know the person well and are experiencing difficulties alongside the person.

Behaviour Support looks at the person’s whole life including the things that are going well and the things that the person and their support people find difficult. This is sometimes called behaviours of concern. Behaviour Support aims to help everyone understand the person better so they know how to support them better.

Lily and I are very close but we were not getting along well. I was so exhausted by her behaviour.  When I tried to understand what was happening, she just yelled and threw things at me. I tried everything I could but nothing worked. Lily’s Occupational Therapist thought it was time to get help from a Behaviour Support Practitioner and referred me to a service.


Julie, Lily’s Behaviour Support Practitioner helped me to understand what Lily was trying to tell me and what I could do to help her when she was upset. Julie helped me realise that Lily needed more independence and I had to step back and let her try things. Things are not perfect but Lily is much happier and that makes my life so much easier.

Picture of Cathy

Restrictive practices

Many people with behaviours of concern have a restrictive practice. A restrictive practice takes away a person with disability’s rights or their freedom to move around freely.

There are 5 types of restrictive practices:

  1. Chemical restraint – When medicine is used to change a person’s behaviour, for example someone is given medication when they become distressed and may harm themselves.
  2. Mechanical restraint – When a device is used to restrict a person’s movement, for example using bed rails or a lap belt.
  3. Physical restraint – When another person uses their body to restrict the movement of a person, for example holding a person’s hands down so they can’t hurt themselves or others.
  4. Environmental restraint – Stops a person from going where they want to go, for example locking the front door so they cannot leave the house.
  5. Seclusion – Putting a person in a space on their own to stop a behaviour, for example putting a person in a room on their own and shutting the door.

The aim of Behaviour Support is to reduce the use of restrictive practices if they are in place. Restrictive practices are only used as a last resort and are removed when other supports are put in place to help the person with their behaviour.

There are some circumstances when restrictive practices are necessary as a last resort to protect a person with disability and or others from harm.

Watch the video of Luke and Cameron talking about having his restrictive practice removed.

The role of the Behaviour Support Practitioner

The Behaviour Support practitioner’s role is to lead the Positive Behaviour Support process.

Practitioners work in partnership with the person and all of those who are important to them including their family and friends, support workers, and other professionals.

The practitioner will involve the person and their support people at every step of the process. They will gather information, develop support strategies and write the Behaviour Support Plan. The practitioner will provide training to supporters and will review the plan to make sure it is working. They will give everyone a copy of the plan. The plan should be available in plain English so everyone can understand it. The person with disability should also have information about the plan in the way they can understand it, for example, in easy to read format.

You may have past experiences of Behaviour Support where the person you support wasn’t involved in the decisions about their Behaviour Support. People are not always involved the way they should be.

This resource aims to provide you with information about what good Behaviour Support is so you can feel more confident in seeking the best Behaviour Support for the person you support.

For more information about Behaviour Support, visit the NDIS Participant fact sheets for Behaviour Support.