Geographical Networks in the Divergence of Australian Positive Behavior Support Policy

Brent A. Hayward, Lisa McKay-Brown, Shiralee Poed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Positive behavior support (PBS) is an example of a disability policy that has gained international acceptance through its promotion as a means of improving personal outcomes, reducing restrictive practices, and upholding human rights. We take the situation of devolution of responsibility for restrictive practices in the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme to examine how policies for PBS have diverged. We use references in PBS policies to study the influence of geography and interpersonal relationships in policymaking. Using a variety of network science methods, we explore what has led to the development of divergent PBS policy. The results show that only a small number of co-cited references were used, the majority of which are not PBS-specific, are not from Australia, and are not freely available online. Geographical patterns of reference use are evident, and brokers can be identified. This geographical divergence may have negative outcomes for people with disability, particularly those with ID who are at greater risk of not having their needs met. The methodology can be applied internationally in a variety of policy contexts to demonstrate local influences on policy development and identify opportunities to strategically effect changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • co-citation analysis
  • devolution
  • divergence
  • intellectual disability
  • policy
  • positive behavior support

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