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Family-centred road safety practice

Watch Assoc Prof Warwick Teague discuss the importance of supporting children’s transport needs through family-centred practice.
These are big problems, complex issues, there’ll be complex solutions. So where do you start? Perhaps the most pragmatic and positive way to start is to start a conversation with families about their children as to how are you getting on with road transport? What are the challenges you currently face? The best time to start that conversation is right at the beginning when these issues are being understood and being discovered. It is probably never too early to start that conversation. This family will be continually needing to transport their child, whether it’s to engage in life activities, to get out and to explore the world, like we want all of our children doing, to engage with schooling.
But also children with disability and complex health needs, the super added burden of needing to access health facilities, whether it’s to get to the GP, get to the hospital, get to the allied health professionals in the community. Without forward planning, each of these moments represents a renewed tussling with the complexity of the transport requirements. An effective motor transport plan is going to allow the current needs of the child to be understood, and as many resources to be gathered into meeting those needs as is required to be safely traveling. But also to look into the future. Perhaps right now, the off the shelf products are just right for that child.
But as we look forward, perhaps there’s a time coming when more special needs, more tailored but still compliant with standard devices are going to be required. Unless we have that forward planning, we cannot deliver those resources in timely fashion, or at least that is the experience of so many families. And again, we have children being left behind, which is what we cannot accept and what we must work to not continue to have. So we need to have that conversation early and we need to keep the conversation going, and we need to be projecting into the future needs of that child to ensure that we can intersect our opportunity to deliver care with the child’s requirement for that care.

Supporting children’s transport needs through family-centred practice is essential for families’ wellbeing, social and economic participation in the community.

When families leave their home, they enter the road system to participate in the community. The road system plays an important role in reducing poverty and inequities via access to everyday services, education and employment, connecting with friends and family and building social and community connections.

Australian research found that families of children with disabilities travel in a range of vehicles, with the main family vehicle the most commonly used:

  • main family vehicle (97.9%)
  • second family vehicle (50.8%)
  • friend’s or relative’s vehicles (32.6%)
  • bus (28.4%)
  • taxi (7.7%)
  • rideshare vehicles (1.7%).

Family-centred practice

According to the Raising Children’s Network, a family-centred approach is a way of working in partnership with families to better understand their circumstances, and to help parents decide what strategies best suit their children and families.

This approach has some basic principles:

  • support works best when you understand each family’s individual goals, expectations, values and everyday life
  • parents know their children and their family best
  • all families have strengths, and we learn and grow best when we use our strengths
  • children’s wellbeing and development depends on the wellbeing of all family members and of the family as a whole
  • family wellbeing depends on the quality of informal social supports and the availability of formal support services.
The Barron family getting out and about

Embedding road safety practice

For some children and families, embedding family centred road safety practice will be an ongoing activity, requiring forward planning and regular reviews.

Assessing and planning for a child’s motor vehicle transport needs is complex and may rapidly change in response to child and family needs. This requires a proactive, planned approach.

In step 3.3 and step 3.4, we’ll introduce you to key resources and guides to assist with assessing, planning and documenting child and family transport needs.

Embedding these tools into your practice increases the likelihood of keeping children safe in motor vehicles and gives parents greater choice and control when making decisions about their child’s day to day transport.

Your task

Watch Assoc Prof Warwick Teague discuss the importance of family-centred practice. What are some of the challenges of embedding family-centred road safety practice? Post your ideas below.

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Transporting Children with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

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