Introduction: Despite over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in road related deaths and serious injury, no large-scale trial focusing on safe travel for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has been reported and evaluated in Australia. Further, little is reported from the perspective of their families how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children travel in cars.
Method: Following extensive consultation and engagement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in New South Wales, and under the guidance of an engaged Steering Committee, a pragmatic trial of Buckle-Up Safely was developed and is being implemented in 12 communities in New South Wales. The program is being delivered by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community workers who participated in child car seat training. Results presented here form part of the baseline data collection. To measure the effectiveness of the program, 42 local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were employed and participated in training to conduct the baseline surveys with parents and carers and to observe how children travelled as they arrived at early childhood services.
Results: Parents or carers provided responses to the structured survey for 601 children. The average age of the child was 3.3±1.6 years (range 0–7 years) and 338/560 (60%) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children. Of the 349 children observed, 16% (54/329) were not in the right restraint for their age; significant errors ranged from belt buckle not being engaged (11%) to internal/shoulder harness being incorrectly or not used (31%).
Conclusions: These findings are the first stage to measure the effectiveness of a culturally appropriate child car seat program among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the work and commitment of all the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations involved in this project and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have worked as Research Assistants and Community Workers. This project is funded by NSW Health Aboriginal Injury Prevention Demonstration Grants Scheme and Transport for NSW. Dr Hunter has been supported by a Post-doctoral Research Fellowship with The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health.