A Passion For Child Safety

Many people would be shocked to know that children are being injured in cars at an alarming rate.

“Even though we’ve had major improvements in the past 20 years, two out of three children in Australia are not restrained in the right way in cars which puts them at great risk of injury.” As an injury researcher with an interest in health promotion and as a mother, Dr Lisa Keay should know. Having worked in the field for some time, Lisa has matched her background in public health with her passion for improving the safety of vulnerable drivers in a new study called ‘Buckle up safely’.

“Babies are quite well restrained in cars in Australia, but there is a gap from the age of 2 to 8 where children could be better restrained and protected when involved in a crash. At the heart of the problem is matching the size of the child to the type of restraint and using it correctly.”

“The cost of child restraints is actually at play here. However, it isn’t the only issue. It seems that parents are unaware that they aren’t doing things correctly.”

The study involves testing a targeted education program in 14 pre-schools and long-day care centres, which will then be compared to 14 other schools which have not received the program. After 12 months, Lisa and the team will compare the two groups of school to see the impact of the program. Researchers will also investigate the impact of the program in Indigenous communities.

“If we can prove the benefits of the education program, we hope it will become a key part of early childhood services.”

The research is very timely, as it coincides with a legislation change in Australia. Lisa believes the law will make a positive difference, but people will still need to be informed of how to use the seats properly and which seats to use.

“This study is about making a difference, and motivating people about choosing the best options. I’m passionate about protecting vulnerable road users, and children are particularly vulnerable in car crashes. An injured child can potentially mean a life of disability, so it’s important that we get child restraint used in the correct way.”