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Selecting a child car restraint for children with a disability or medical condition

31 March 2015

female OT in car positioning a car seat for a young boy in a powered wheelchair

Selecting a child car restraint (car seat) for a child with special needs can be challenging.

It can take time to find a product that meets the needs of the child and family, and then there is the prescription and approval process to navigate.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the WA Road Traffic Code 2000, all child car restraints sold and used in Australia must meet Australian Standard “AS/NZS: 1754: Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles”. It is a legal requirement to use restraints that meet this standard. These are referred to as “compliant” restraints. However, there are currently no compliant child car restraints designed for children with special needs. So, what does this mean?

For children with a disability or medical condition, a separate Australian Standard was developed in 2013 – “AS/NZS 4370: Restraint of children with disabilities or medical conditions in a motor vehicle”. This sets out guidelines and procedures to assist a prescriber (eg. Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist) to ensure the safest restraint option is recommended for the child.

Due to the increasing range of compliant products available on the market, not every child with a disability or medical condition will require a special purpose child car restraint. However, if a non-compliant restraint or accessory is required, then approval is required from Department of Transport before it can be used.

Paediatric Therapists in Western Australia are becoming more familiar with the required processes; however, the processes are still relatively new and can be challenging to navigate.

Indigo (Formerly Independent Living Centre WA) has identified these challenges and aims to make the processes easier for parents and therapists. The following are now available:

  • Fact sheet summarising the requirements
  • An “Advice to parents Form” template has been developed for use by prescribers
  • A range of compliant and special purpose child car restraints are on display at the Indigo Experience Centre, as well as a range of new accessories
  • The child car restraints available in Indigo Hire have been updated and include new compliant options
  • The process for hiring child car restraints through Indigo Hire has been clarified – Indigo can assist in obtaining approval from Department of Transport for the purpose of hire
  • Indigo can now act as the prescriber and complete the assessment, Advice to Parents Form and assist with obtaining approval from Department of Transport. This service attracts a fee
  • Indigo continues to offer free advice and information by appointment, telephone: 9381 0600 email: general@indigosolutions.org.au and Skype