A simple guide to child restraints - Department of Infrastructure and

A simple guide to child restraints - Department of Infrastructure and
a simple
Guide
to child restraints
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Australia
Freecall: 1800 026 349
www.infrastructure.gov.au
Nov2007/DOTARS 50404
how you can protect your child
a guide for parents with children from birth to 16 years
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Restraints are important ................................ 1
Pregnancy ......................................................3
Babies............................................................4
Very young children .......................................7
Young children and older children .................9
Tether-strap fittings and anchorages ........... 13
General information ..................................... 15
Further help ................................................. 16
Technical advice courtesy of:
NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, RAA of SA Inc, RAC of WA Inc, RACV, RACQ Ltd, NRMA Ltd, RACT, Kidsafe Australia, Britax
Photographs courtesy of:
VicRoads and Kidsafe Australia
Royal Automobile Club of W.A. (Inc)
Telephone: 13 17 03
Website: www.racwa.com.au
Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Ltd
Telephone: (07) 3872 8926 (Brisbane)
1800 816 523 (all other areas)
Website: www.racq.com.au
Royal Automobile Club of Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9790 2190
Website: www.racv.com.au
Royal Children’s Hospital Child Health and
Safety Resource Centre (Melbourne)
Telephone: (03) 9345 5085
Website: www.rch.org.au/chas
Victoria
Telephone: (02) 9251 7725
Australian Capital Territory
Telephone: (02) 6290 2244
New South Wales
Telephone: (02) 9845 0890
Further help
Contents
Automobile Association of N.T. Inc.
Telephone: (08) 8981 3837
Website: www.aant.com.au
Queensland
Telephone: (07) 3854 1829
Tasmania
Telephone: (03) 6214 8830
Western Australia
Telephone: (08) 9340 8509
1800 802 244 (Child Safety Information Line)
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Website: www.atsb.gov.au
Information Line Telephone: 1800 621 372
Kidsafe
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)
www.kidsafe.com.au
Telephone Interpreting (24-hour service) Telephone: 13 14 50
National office
Telephone: (02) 6290 2243
Hunter Valley Region
Telephone: (02) 4942 4488
Northern Territory
Telephone: (08) 8985 1085
South Australia
Telephone: (08) 8161 6318
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Restraints are important
Always use restraints when you drive with children. Children can be particularly
vulnerable in a car, even when they are sitting in the back seat. When driving with
children, ensure that they are always correctly restrained, even when you:
» drive slowly
» drive carefully
» take just a short trip.
You must wear a seat belt even when you are pregnant.
Children require the appropriate restraint for their size:
» infant restraints (for babies – newborn to about 6 months or 12 months)
» child seats (for very young children – from about 6 months to 4 years old)
» booster seats and harnesses (for young children – from about 4 years old
to 10 years old)
» seat belts (for older children).
Always take the time to get your child comfortably and correctly strapped in.
Warning
» Each child restraint must be correctly installed and it must have the Standards
Australia mark.
» Each child restraint must suit your child’s weight and size. Children grow at
different rates, so your child’s weight and size are much more important than
your child’s age.
» Avoid early promotion: do not move your child from one type of restraint to
the next before they have reached the top of the weight or height range of the
restraint. Children should continue to use a suitable child restraint for as long
as they fit.
(Continued on next page...)
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» Where possible, always place children in the back seat of your car. The
back seat is much safer than the front seat.
» Never use an infant restraint in the front-passenger seat if your car has
a front-passenger airbag.
» Do not use a restraint if it is more than 10 years old, is damaged or
has been in a crash, even if it does not appear to be damaged.
» Child restraints should never be used in vehicle seats that face
rearward or sideways.
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All Australian states and territories require you to wear a seat belt, even when you are
pregnant. Pregnant women sometimes find wearing a seat belt uncomfortable, or worry that
it may harm the unborn baby. However, a seat belt that is worn properly puts little pressure
on your stomach. A seat belt will protect both you and your baby in the event of a crash.
Without a seat belt, the risk is much greater for both baby and mother.
Pregnancy
Pregnancy
How should I wear the seat belt?
Place the lap (the lower part of the
seat belt):
» over your upper thighs
» across your hips
» below your baby.
Place the sash (the upper part of the
seat belt):
» over your shoulder
» between your breasts
» above your baby.
The photograph shows you how to wear
the seat belt correctly.
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Babies
NEWBORN TO ABOUT 6 MONTHS OLD OR 12 MONTHS OLD
WEIGHT: UP TO 9 KG (OR 70 CM IN LENGTH) OR 12 KG
DEPENDING ON MAXIMUM WEIGHT/LENGTH NOTED ON THE RESTRAINT
You should plan to get an infant restraint before
your baby is born, and use the restraint to
take your baby home from the hospital. The
restraint must have the Standards Australia
mark (see page 15) and you must install the
restraint correctly in your car according to the
manufacturer’s instructions.
What type of restraint should I get?
You can rent or buy several types of infant restraints. Before you select your restraint, ask
yourself:
» Does it have the Standards Australia mark?
» Will it fit in my car?
» Will it be easy to use?
» If your baby is already several months old, will it suit your baby’s weight and size?
There are two kinds of infant restraints: single purpose (only facing rearward) and convertibles.
Convertibles face rearward until the baby weighs 9 kg or 12 kg, depending on the specific model
(refer to the packaging and manufacturer’s instructions), and are then turned around to face
forward. Neither kind should be used in vehicle seats that face rearward or sideways.
Your baby should be left in a rearward-facing restraint until the baby reaches the specified weight
limit. In that position, the force of any crash is distributed evenly across the baby’s torso, and the
back of the infant restraints will support and protect the head and neck. NEVER fit a rearwardfacing infant restraint with an airbag in front of it.
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In most states and territories, you can rent an infant restraint from:
» private companies
» community groups
» local councils
» hospitals.
Babies
Where can I rent an infant restraint?
See pages 16 and 17 for further help.
How do I install an infant restraint?
You must follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when you install the infant restraint. Be sure
that you understand the correct use of tether straps and anchorages (see page 13). If you have
any problems, ask an approved fitting station to help you (see pages 16 and 17).
How do I use an infant restraint?
Before you use an infant restraint, check that you understand all of the manufacturer’s
instructions.
Make sure that you have enough room to place your baby in the restraint. If the tether strap is in
your way, either:
» separate the tether strap from the anchorage; or
» extend the connected tether strap until the tether strap is loose.
Do not wrap your baby in a blanket or a rug before you place the baby in the restraint.
The infant restraint has a harness (safety belt) for your baby. Place the harness straps over
your baby’s shoulders and between the legs. The shoulder straps must not be below the baby’s
shoulders. Adjust the harness until it fits comfortably yet firmly. If you can fit more than one of
your fingers between the straps and your baby, the harness is not tight enough.
If you wish, you may now cover your baby with a blanket or a rug. Check that the baby can
breathe comfortably.
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If you separated the tether strap from the anchorage to make it easier to place the baby in the restraint,
remember to connect the tether strap again once the baby is placed in the restraint.
If you extended the tether strap in order to make it loose, remember to adjust the tether strap until it is
firm. Do not over-tighten.
Every time you use the infant restraint, check that the tether strap and the harness are properly
connected and firm, and that the seat belt is correctly fitted, engaged and adjusted.
As your baby grows, you will need to adjust the harness.
My car has an airbag for the front passenger.
Can I put my baby in the front passenger
seat?
Never use an infant restraint in the front-passenger seat if
your car has a front-passenger airbag.
The airbag may hurt or kill your baby, especially if your
infant restraint faces towards the back of your car.
Even if your car does not have a front-passenger airbag,
your baby is much safer if you place the restraint in the
back seat.
Should I install a restraint next to a sideimpact air bag?
In Australia, there have been no known cases of injury to
correctly restrained children from deploying side airbags.
Side airbags are generally smaller than frontal airbags and consequently pose less risk to small
occupants.
However, the manufacturer of your vehicle is the best source of information regarding the proper use of
child restraint systems near the airbags in your vehicle.
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FROM ABOUT 6 MONTHS OLD TO 4 YEARS OLD
WEIGHT: FROM 8 KG TO 18 KG
Once your baby reaches the weight or length limit for your rearwardfacing infant restraint, the baby can move to a forward-facing child
seat. A child seat is a separate seat which is secured in the vehicle.
Your child is then restrained by the child seat’s own harness,
which has the advantage of being specifically designed for a child.
Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions every time
when fitting your child seat.
Very young children
Very young children
Before you use your child seat, your child should be able to easily
support their head with their neck.
Continue to use your child seat until:
» your child weighs 18 kg; or
» your child’s shoulders are too wide to fit inside the child seat; or
» your child’s shoulders are 25 mm above the top adjustment
holes for the harness.
Children with disabilities may require a special seat if they cannot easily use a normal child seat.
How do I install a child seat?
You must follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when you install a child seat. Be sure that you
understand the correct use of tether straps and anchorage points (see page 13). If you have any
problems, ask an approved fitting station to help you (see pages 16 and 17). Child seats must not be
installed on any side or rearward-facing seats in the vehicle.
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Convertible restraints
Some infant restraints can be converted to a child seat.
Some of these convertible restraints will suit a baby in the rearward-facing position until the baby weighs 12 kg.
Avoid converting the restraint to forward-facing too early. It is best to wait until your child reaches 9 kg or 12 kg
(depending on the manufacturer’s instructions) as the rearward-facing position will provide better protection for
an infant in a crash.
Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions when you convert your infant restraint into a child seat. If you find
this task difficult, get help from an approved child-restraint fitting station.
How do I use a child seat?
Whenever your child sits in a child seat, use the buckle to fasten the harness straps around your child. Make
sure that the harness is firmly fitted in position and the straps are not twisted. It is no good having a harness
if it is not correctly adjusted. The harness should fit closely to the child, and the harness buckle should rest
lower than the stomach. Young children like to take the straps off their shoulders, but you must ensure that the
shoulder straps stay on the shoulders at all times.
Combination Seats
There are child restraints available that work as both a child seat and later as a booster seat. These come with a
built-in harness and a top tether strap. The built-in harness means it can be used as a child car seat until your
child reaches 18 kg, or the child’s shoulders are above the top shoulder-strap slot.
At that point, the straps can be tucked away, and the seat functions as a booster seat, allowing your child to use
either the vehicle’s lap/sash belt or a child harness. Like other booster seats (see next section, page 9), these
seats can be used until your child weighs 26 kg or their eyes are in line with the top of the booster seat, vehicle
seat or vehicle headrest.
Do not move your child from the child seat to a booster before the child has reached the upper weight range of
the child seat, or is too tall for the harness and cannot comfortably fit.
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FROM ABOUT 4 YEARS OLD TO 10 YEARS OLD
WEIGHT: FROM 14 KG TO 32 KG
Booster seat
Once your child is too big to use a child seat, the child can use a booster
(raised seat). Booster seats position a child to use the car’s lap/sash
seat belt or a child harness. Do not move your child from a child seat to a
booster before they have reached the upper weight range of the child seat,
or are too tall for the restraint and cannot comfortably fit.
There are different types of booster seats available. A booster with a back
and ‘wings’ (sides) offers more protection in a crash than a booster cushion
with no back. The back and wings will also support your child while your
child sleeps, and may also help to keep the sash in the correct place.
Use the booster for as long as your child fits in the seat, or until your child’s
eyes are at the same level as the top of the booster seat.
Young children and older children
Young children and older children
Get a booster that suits your child’s weight and size. The booster comes with
all the information that you will need. Do not be tempted to put your child in
a restraint that is too big on the grounds that the child will grow into it.
Booster with child safety harness and your car’s lap-only seat belt
If you use a booster seat with a lap-only seat belt, you must also use a child safety harness.
The top part of the harness connects to your car’s child restraint anchorage, and the two shoulder straps hold
the upper part of your child’s body. The car’s lap-only seat belt goes through a pair of loops at the other end of
the harness. The harness has an upper pair of loops and a lower pair of loops. Choose the pair that suit your
child’s height. The lap-only seat belt holds the harness and the booster in place.
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Make sure that you use the harness the correct way. The lap-only
seat belt must be firm and it must sit across your child’s thighs,
going from hip bone to hip bone. It must not move onto your child’s
abdomen. First, adjust the lap-only seat belt until it is firm; then
remove the slack from the shoulder straps of the harness, but not so
much that the lap belt is moved up onto your child’s abdomen.
Booster with your car’s lap-sash seat belt
Child harnesses must be used to provide torso restraint with a laponly belt, but they may also be used with lap-sash seat belts to
provide better protection in a crash. You can purchase a three-bar slide/gated buckle (see picture) to allow the lap-sash
belts to be threaded through the harness loops.
How do I use a booster?
Some boosters do not have a tether strap. In order to hold the booster in place, use either:
» your child safety harness with your car’s lap-only seat belt; or
» your car’s lap-sash seat belt.
Some heavier boosters do have a tether strap. If your booster has a tether strap, it must be
attached to the anchorage point in your car. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and seek
assistance from a fitting station if necessary.
If using the lap-sash seat belt, make sure that the sash goes over your child’s shoulder. If necessary, adjust the sash
so that it does not touch your child’s face, head or neck. Never tuck the seat belt under your child’s arm or behind their
back. In a crash, your child could be injured if you do this.
If using a harness, make sure that the seat belt and the harness are firm, but not too tight, every time you use them. If
the harness is too tight, it may pull the lap seat belt upwards from your child’s hips. If the seat belt or harness is not
fitted properly every time, it may not provide protection in a crash.
Submarining
In some circumstances, it has been found that children wearing harnesses or seat belts can slide out from under the
straps, or ‘submarine,’ during a crash. This may be caused by poor posture or the child slumping in the restraint. Some
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Warning
» Do not move your child from their child seat to a booster before they have reached the upper weight or height
range of the child seat.
» Do not use an ordinary cushion as a booster. If you use an ordinary cushion, your child may slide under the seat
belt (‘submarine’) during a crash.
» Do not use a booster with only a lap-only seat belt. In order to protect your child, you must also use a child
harness. If you do not have a child harness, you must use a lap-sash seat belt with the booster.
» Do not use a booster if it raises your child’s eye-level above the back of the car seat.
» Never allow the seat belt to be tucked under your child’s arm or behind their back.
» Never modify the seat or adult seat belt to make it fit.
» Follow all the warnings in the manufacturer’s instructions.
Child harness
Child harnesses are intended for children weighing 14 kg to 32 kg. They are important because small children have
heavy heads and torsos that can be thrown forward violently in crashes. With a harness securing them, your child can
avoid injuries to the head, spine and abdomen.
Until your child weighs 26kg, they should use a booster seat in conjunction with the harness.
After that, they can use a child harness without a booster. The harness has two shoulder straps
that hold the upper part of your child’s body. The car’s seat belt goes through a pair of loops in
the harness. The harness has an upper pair of loops and a lower pair of loops. Choose the pair of
loops that suit your child’s height.
Young children and older children continued...
booster seats now include anti-submarining devices designed to prevent such an occurrence. The anti-submarining
design may be a formation in the shell of the booster seat, or a short webbing strap attached to the booster between
the child’s legs, with a clip that attaches to the lap portion of the belt to form a crotch strap.
Before you buy a harness, make sure that it suits your child’s weight. The box that contains the
child harness will have all the information you will need.
Most harnesses are suitable for children weighing from 14 kg to 32 kg; however, children should
remain in a child seat as long as possible before moving to a booster seat and harness. You
should continue to use the harness until your child reaches the weight limit on the instructions.
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How do I use a child harness?
Harnesses are sometimes difficult to use. To correctly use a harness:
» Attach the top part of the harness to the anchorage.
» Push the seat belt through the correct pair of loops in the harness.
» Tighten the seat belt while the harness is loose. The seat belt must be firm and it must sit across the hips, before tensioning
the harness tether strap. It must not move up over the abdomen.
» Next, slowly tighten the shoulder straps to remove the slack. The harness must not lift the seat belt up over the abdomen as
the harness tether strap is tightened.
Older children
Your child should no longer use a booster once their child’s eyes are at the same level as the back
of the booster seat or the vehicle headrest.
Do not allow your child to use only the adult seat belt too early. Do not allow your child to slump
when sitting in a seat belt. The lap belt must be on their thighs.
A lap-sash seat belt is much safer than just a lap-only seat belt. Only use a lap-only seat belt if
you cannot use a lap-sash seat belt in the back seat or in the front seat. If your child does not
weigh more than 32 kg, you can use a lap-only seat belt with a child harness.
Children are always safer in the back seat. If you must have your child sit in the front seat with a
front-passenger airbag, you should make sure that your child sits a safe distance back from the
airbag.
If the seat is adjustable, move it rearwards to keep your child away from any danger of a deploying
frontal airbag. Check that the seat position still allows the seat belt to fit your child correctly. The
lap belt should touch across the hips and the sash belt should touch across the chest and shoulder.
Warning
» Never allow two children to share a seat belt. Never allow an adult and a child to share a seat belt.
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A tether strap connects an infant restraint, a child seat, heavier booster or harness to your car’s ‘anchorage’ in a solid metal
part of your car. Child restraint anchorages in a car are usually in the form of a bolt with a specially-shaped metal bracket, or a
specially-shaped metal bracket or rod to which the fitting on the tether can be attached.
To work properly, the tether strap must be fastened firmly but not over-tightened.
The tether strap will prevent the restraint from tipping forward or moving sideways in a collision or during a sudden stop.
Most restraints have a tether-strap fitting that looks like a hook (see picture A). The hook-shaped fitting attaches to a hole in the
anchorage point (see picture B). Be sure to attach the hook to a properly-fitted child restraint anchorage and not to any other
nearby fitting, such as luggage retention fittings. The owner’s manual for your vehicle will provide information on the location and
use of child restraint anchorages.
Older restraints have a tether-strap fitting that looks like a keyhole (see picture C). The keyhole-shaped fitting attaches to a raised
bolt in the anchorage (see picture D). This type of fitting was superseded in 1993, and spare fittings for this system will no longer
be available.
If possible, use a restraint that has a hook-shaped fitting (see picture A).
A
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B
C
Tether-strap fittings and anchorages
Tether-strap fittings and anchorages
D
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Anchorages
Your car-owner’s book will show you where the anchorage positions are in your car. Check the book to see if you must use extra-long
bolts.
Newer cars have at least one anchorage that you can use with hook-type straps (see picture below).
If you have an older car, you may need to install an anchorage before you can attach a child restraint. See pages 16 and 17 for
further help.
If you need to change a fitting so that it suits the anchor hook on your child restraint, buy a new anchorage fitting.
If you have a hatchback or a wagon, the anchorage may be located on the back of the vehicle seat, the roof or the floor behind
the vehicle seat. If the anchorage is located there, make sure that the tether strap cannot fall or slip into any gap between vehicle
seats.
Child restraint anchorage.
If in doubt, seek help from a fitting station!
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Standards Australia
Before you buy or rent a restraint, check that it has
the Standards Australia mark (see the picture).
Australian law says that you must not use a restraint
if it does not comply with the Australian Standard.
Overseas restraints do not meet Australian standards
unless they have this mark.
Used restraints
If you plan to get a used restraint, remember:
» The restraint must have the Standards Australia mark.
» The restraint must not be more than 10 years old.
» You must not use a restraint if it has been in a crash or if it is
damaged.
» The straps must not show any signs of wear or damage.
» The plastic shell and the buckle must not be broken, cracked
or split.
» The buckle and the adjusters must work correctly. Check
several times that you can lock and unlock the buckle, and
the adjuster grabs the webbing.
» You must get instructions that show you how to install the
restraint. If necessary, ask the manufacturer of the restraint
to give you a copy of the instructions. If you need more help,
contact an approved fitting station (see pages 16 and 17).
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Child restraints and the law
As the driver, you must make sure that all child passengers
who are up to 16 years old are suitably restrained. You are
responsible for their safety.
In most states and territories, the law says that every child who
is less than 12 months old:
» must use a suitable approved child restraint that is properly
fastened and adjusted (the restraint must suit your child’s
weight and size)
» must not be in a front seat if the vehicle has two or more
rows of seats.
General Information
General information
Children who are 12 months old or older must also be in a
suitable approved child restraint, OR:
» must wear a seat belt that is properly adjusted and fastened;
and
» must not occupy the same seating position as another
passenger.
While current laws permit children to wear seat belts from the
age of 12 months, they will be much safer if they use a child
restraint that suits their weight and size.
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Further help
Road safety authorities
Tasmania
Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources
Telephone: 1300 135 513
Website: www.transport.tas.gov.au
Australian Capital Territory
Department of Territory and Municipal Services
Telephone: (02) 6207 7236
Website: www.tams.act.gov.au
Victoria
VicRoads
Telephone: 1300 360 745
Website: www.vicroads.vic.gov.au
New South Wales
Roads and Traffic Authority Telephone: 13 22 13
Website: www.rta.nsw.gov.au
Western Australia
Child Car Restraint Advisory Infoline
Telephone: 1300 780 713
Website: www.childcarrestraints.com.au
Use these telephone numbers if you need more information or if you
wish to locate your nearest approved fitting station.
Northern Territory
Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment
Telephone: (08) 8924 7019
Website: www.ipe.nt.gov.au
Queensland
Queensland Transport
Telephone: 13 23 80
Website: www.transport.qld.gov.au
Queensland Ambulance Service
Telephone: 1300 369 003
South Australia
Transport SA
Telephone: 13 10 84
Website: www.transport.sa.gov.au
Automobile associations
NRMA Ltd
Telephone: 1300 655 443
Website: www.nrma.com.au
Royal Automobile Association of S.A. Inc
Telephone: (08) 8202 4592/4222
Website: www.raa.net
Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania
Telephone: (03) 62326 333/344
Website: www.ract.com.au
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Restraints are important ................................ 1
Pregnancy ......................................................3
Babies............................................................4
Very young children .......................................7
Young children and older children .................9
Tether-strap fittings and anchorages ........... 13
General information ..................................... 15
Further help ................................................. 16
Technical advice courtesy of:
NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, RAA of SA Inc, RAC of WA Inc, RACV, RACQ Ltd, NRMA Ltd, RACT, Kidsafe Australia, Britax
Photographs courtesy of:
VicRoads and Kidsafe Australia
Royal Automobile Club of W.A. (Inc)
Telephone: 13 17 03
Website: www.racwa.com.au
Royal Automobile Club of Queensland Ltd
Telephone: (07) 3872 8926 (Brisbane)
1800 816 523 (all other areas)
Website: www.racq.com.au
Royal Automobile Club of Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9790 2190
Website: www.racv.com.au
Royal Children’s Hospital Child Health and
Safety Resource Centre (Melbourne)
Telephone: (03) 9345 5085
Website: www.rch.org.au/chas
Victoria
Telephone: (02) 9251 7725
Australian Capital Territory
Telephone: (02) 6290 2244
New South Wales
Telephone: (02) 9845 0890
Further help
Contents
Automobile Association of N.T. Inc.
Telephone: (08) 8981 3837
Website: www.aant.com.au
Queensland
Telephone: (07) 3854 1829
Tasmania
Telephone: (03) 6214 8830
Western Australia
Telephone: (08) 9340 8509
1800 802 244 (Child Safety Information Line)
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Website: www.atsb.gov.au
Information Line Telephone: 1800 621 372
Kidsafe
Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)
www.kidsafe.com.au
Telephone Interpreting (24-hour service) Telephone: 13 14 50
National office
Telephone: (02) 6290 2243
Hunter Valley Region
Telephone: (02) 4942 4488
Northern Territory
Telephone: (08) 8985 1085
South Australia
Telephone: (08) 8161 6318
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a simple
Guide
to child restraints
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Australia
Freecall: 1800 026 349
www.infrastructure.gov.au
Nov2007/DOTARS 50404
how you can protect your child
a guide for parents with children from birth to 16 years
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22/07/09 2:57 PM
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