New Australian Standard for protection of children with disabilities and medical conditions in vehicles

Georgia 1 August

Standards Australia today launched a new Standard at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), which will assist in protecting children with disabilities and medical conditions in motor vehicles.

The Standard, AS/NZS 4370:2013 Restraint of children with disabilities, or medical conditions, in motor vehicles, includes a new comprehensive assessment guide and considerations for children with complex and challenging behaviours.

“When a child has a long or short term medical condition or disability, their ability to get in and out of the car, and be safely restrained in the car, is impacted upon. So solutions needed to be worked out,” said Ms Lisa Vale, RCH Manager Occupational Therapy.

Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, Bernie Geary, said the updated standard will enable prescribers to recommend the most suitable restraint option for children with a disability or medical condition.

“The new standard is designed to enable an occupational therapist to access the safety restraint needs of a child with one or more disabilities or a medical condition when travelling in a motor vehicle, and to identify and recommend the best available restraint option,” Mr Geary said.

“I have some personal experience in this. I have a sister with a disability and I know the drama that takes place each time a person with a disability has to be secured in a car, and I think that having these standards is a wonderful step forward,” he said.

Sue Mackie, mum to eight year old RCH patient Georgia who has cerebral palsy, said the standards were very important.

“Children with complex needs like Georgia, who have trouble keeping their body still and have a lot of extra movement, need to have equipment and restraints that are going to work and keep them safe”, Ms Mackie said.

Chief Executive Officer of Standards Australia, Colin Blair, said the purpose of the standard is to reduce the risk of bodily injury to both the child and other occupants in vehicle accidents.

Mr Blair hopes the Standard will make an important contribution to the safety of children with disabilities up to the age of 16 years. 

“According to a survey conducted by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, in 25 per cent of cases, families of children with additional needs were putting their child at risk by not purchasing the recommended child restraint.”

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