Kidsafe backs child seat alarm changes

Child accident prevention foundation Kidsafe has backed a coroner’s recommendation child car seat safety standards should be reviewed following the death of a 22-month-old boy in Kyneton in 2015.

The recommendation followed an inquest conducted by State Coroner Sara Hinchey into the death of Noah Zunde, after he was inadvertently left in a hot car by his mother on February 19.

Judge Hinchey recommended relevant standards be amended to ensure hard-wired safety features be introduced where appropriate, pending the outcome of the review.

Kidsafe Victoria general manager Jason Chambers said the organisation would welcome mandatory systems to ensure children were not left in hot cars, providing the review deemed the measure appropriate.

“You do see a lot of cars now coming out with reversing cameras and sensors in them as safety measures, so if there is found to be something that could work in this case it would be great to see them coming out with it in all cars or all child restraints themselves,” he said.

Mr Chambers said while some movement had been made towards such alarm systems overseas, there was no equivalent measures available in Australia.

“There’s a lot of things like apps that are out there that are prompted, where those type of things require a parent to set the app to remind them they’ve got a child in the car and we have seen some products come through before that could be added on to a car seat child restraint itself as well, but nothing that’s actually integrated into the seats like the coroner has recommended,” he said.

Victorian Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said the government would adhere to any recommendations stemming from the review.

“This was a tragic event that deeply touched many Victorians and I send my sincere condolences to the family,” she said.

“The government will consider the coroner’s recommendations and make any changes necessary.”

But Mr Chambers cautioned that no new technology would entirely substitute for a parent’s awareness and encouraged further community discussion about how tragedies could be avoided.

“There’s been a lot of publicity about intentional incidents where children are intentionally left in cars or incidents where keys become locked in the car with a child but the fatal distractions are something a little bit new and it’s something that can happen to anyone,” he said.

“Our recommendation is that technology can be useful but it should never be relied upon on its own, in some cases there may be a fault or there may be some issues there so while it can be really helpful its important that it’s never the only solution.”

Judge Hinchey also directed a copy of the report be supplied to the country’s peak standards body, Standards Australia, for a response, and a spokeswoman said the organisation would consider the findings.

“The death of Noah Zunde was tragic, our thoughts are with Noah’s family,” she said.

“Standards Australia will write to the coroner and advise of Standards Australia’s response in relation to the recommendations once Standards Australia and the relevant technical committee have had an opportunity to consider the coroner’s findings.”