Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Australian standards

Watch Professor Lynne Bilston, chair of CS-085, discuss the standards relating to transporting children with disabilities and medical conditions.
-Hi, Lynne. Welcome to our online training. It’s great to have you participating in the course, and tell us a little bit about your research, interest in child injury and road trauma. -So my research in child injury and road trauma really began back in the early 2000s, when we started a study that looked at injuries to children in car crashes in the real world and what factors were associated with them getting more or less injured in those crashes. That research really showed clearly that a lot of kids were getting injured in crashes were not wearing a child restraint that was appropriate for their size.
And also, that there were a lot of children who were not using whatever restraint they were using correctly. And so sometimes both of those. Very commonly, we saw quite young children in seat belts when they really should have been in a child restraint or a booster. And we saw a lot of children migrating from child restraints with a harness into booster seats when they were as young as two. And that those restraint choices and how those restraints were used were making a big difference in whether or not they were seriously injured or killed in crashes. In fact, we had no child who was very seriously injured in any crash who was correctly using the most appropriate restraint for their age.
And that really was the beginning of my research interest. It was very clear at that stage that both, we needed to make improvements to child restraint standards and how child restraints were being recommended and used by parents, and also that we needed to actually make it mandatory for children to use child restraints for longer, instead of the situation at the time, which was where children over 12 months were actually legally able to use a seatbelt, even though that really was not adequate in terms of protecting them in crashes. So that’s really where it started. -Yeah, that’s fantastic.
And I know I’ve had the benefit of your research and experience and had the privilege in Victoria at the time of implementing those road drills back in 2009. And we’ve come so far and it’s really exciting to be here with you today to talk about children with disabilities and medical conditions. And it’d be great to understand a little bit about when and why you became involved in the Australian Standard for Child Restraints. -So I joined the Australian Standards Committee at the end of 2003. So that was right around when we were just doing that, finishing up that big study, looking at injuries in car crashes.
And I really became involved at that point, because I felt quite strongly that the way we were designing restraints and prescribing restraints, in particular, for children without disability, which was on the basis of weight, in particular, and to some extent, height. As we did that study, we found very clearly that parents actually, outside the newborn period, parents had no idea how much their kids weighed. And when you asked them what they thought they weighed, it was nowhere near what they actually were. And so that recommending child restraints on the basis of a child’s weight made no sense.
And even by mechanically, it doesn’t make much sense, because what really matters is the fit and the compatibility between the child’s anatomy and the restraints, so that the restraint can restrain the child using the strongest parts of their anatomy, and that changes as they grow. So that was part of the motivation for me for getting involved in the Child Restraint Committee. And also a lot of those injury data that we had collected then fed into the kinds of things that needed to be changed in the restraints. Things like improving the performance of booster seats by requiring them to actually locate the belt in the right place for children of different ages and improving the side impact protection in restraints.
‘Cause we were seeing a lot of children having severe injuries and side impacts that would’ve been mitigated by improved side structures. And that’s very much the case in current restraints, as those standards have become implemented. I took over as the chair of the Child Restraints Standards Committee in about 2013. And so I’m currently the chair of that committee and it’s been my privilege, at the moment, to sort of oversee the development of a number of major changes that we’re working on at the moment.
-Can you tell us a little bit about those changes and maybe just some of your thoughts on how you see those changes potentially benefiting our most vulnerable children, being the children with disabilities and medical conditions in Australia? -It is. So there are a number of changes that are happening. Some of them are technical, just modernisation of various aspects of the main child restraint standard, which is predominantly targeted at children without disability. But one of the things that we are also doing is reviewing and updating the child restraint standard for children with disability to try and make that easier for occupational therapists and other health professionals to use and to find the best option for children with disability.
Drafting the original version of that standard was a great privilege that I really enjoyed working with you on, Helen, and your passion for the area of safe transport for children with disability is really inspiring. So we’re trying to make the main standard more applicable, bearing in mind that the Australian standards restraints, if they can be used for a child with disability, offer typically the greatest protection for those children.
But where those are not able to be used because of a child’s disability or medical condition, integrating that better with the standard for children with disability and making it easier to do modifications and use accessories with those Australian standards restraints to accommodate a greater proportion of children with disability in the safest restraints that we have available.

Standards play an important role in keeping our community safe. There are a few key standards relating to transporting children with disabilities and medical conditions that you need to know about.

3 pieces of red paper, overlapping representing the Australian standards

Standards Australia, a non-government not for profit organisation, is responsible for facilitating the development of Australian standards. They do this via technical committees from across government, business, industry, trade, academia, community and consumers.

The committees develop (and review) standards that set out specifications, procedures, and guidelines for products, services, and systems to ensure they are safe, consistent, and reliable. Standards are voluntary, however as they are regarded as industry best practice many are mandated by law.

Members of the public can contribute to standards by participating in the public comment and review process, which applies to all new and revised standards.

Standards for child restraints

The technical committee for child restraints is CS-085 Child restraints for use in motor vehicles. Professor Lynne Bilston, who features in the video, is the Chair of this committee. This committee is responsible for a number of standards, including:

AS/NZS 1754 Child restraint systems for use in motor vehicles AS/NZS 4370 Restraint of children with disabilities, or medical conditions, in motor vehicles AS 8005 Accessories for child restraints for use in motor vehicles
Design, construction and performance requirements Guidelines for assessing and prescribing restraint options Design, construction and performance requirements and test methods for accessories and add-on devices used with child restraints
Current version 2013 Current version 2013 Current version 2020
Under review Approved for review in late 2022 Recently reviewed

A new standard – AS 5384

A new standard is being developed called AS 5384: Accessories for Seat Belts used in Motor Vehicles.

This standard will consider harnesses and vests amongst other accessories used with seatbelts. Currently there is no national or international standard for harnesses and vests, which are commonly used by children (and older occupants) in motor vehicles. We’ll explore harnesses and vests in step 2.9.

Hudson in child restraint

Hudson is seated in a rearward facing Australian standards car seat

Supply and use

Australia manages the supply and use of Australian standard car seats by mandating the key standard (AS/NZS 1754) through:

  • a consumer protection notice, which only allows suppliers to sell child restraint systems that comply with AS/NZS 1754
  • road laws in each state and territory, which define approved child restraints that children are legally able to use when travelling in a motor vehicle.

However, these requirements do not apply to special purpose car seats, which you will learn more about in Step 2.5.

Your Task

task list and pen

Watch the video of Professor Lynne Bilston, chair of CS-085, talking about her motivation for improving standards and the upcoming reviews. Reflect on the importance of standards and post your thoughts in the comments below.

This article is from the free online

Transporting Children with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education