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Child safety is no accident

Losing a child. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Many people are surprised when they hear that unintentional injuries are one of the leading causes of death and hospitalisation for Australian children. Every year in Australia, approximately 150 child die, and more than 60,000 are admitted to hospital due to a serious injury.

When we talk about unintentional injuries, we are talking about incidents that are commonly referred to as accidents. However, when they happen at the rate they currently are, they can no longer be categorised as accidents.  We are not talking about cuts and bruises from normal rough and tumble that all children partake in. We are talking about the serious injuries that can impact upon a child’s lifelong development. And these incidents can occur in just a split second.

The leading causes of injury related death for children include drowning, transport related incidents and choking and suffocation. The major causes of injury requiring hospital treatment include falls, being hit/struck or crushed, transport related injuries, burns and scalds and poisoning.

While the statistics are frightening, they are an important reminder as to how critical injury prevention really is. Kidsafe Australia has been providing parents and carers with injury prevention information, advice and support since their establishment in 1979 by a concerned group of paediatricians who wanted to make a difference.

At this time, statistics showed that approximately 750 children died every year in Australia from unintentional injury. This has since been reduced to 150 and Kidsafe is proud to have played a leading role in making this impact. While this reduction is a great achievement, there is still work to be done - Kidsafe are continuously working to further reduce this figure and create a safer world for children.

Kidsafe strongly believe that all children need to grow up in a stimulating and challenging environment that enables them to develop to their full potential. It is important for parents and carers to remember that cuts and bruises from exploration and active play are a normal part of development. However, it is also important to remember that children are unable to make accurate risk assessments at such a young age, highlighting the significance of providing a safe environment for them to live, grow and play.

The reality is that life threatening incidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and Australia has seen its share of tragedies. Last financial year, there were 29 toddler drowning incidents; every year approximately seven toddlers are fatally run over in driveways – and these don’t take into account those children who survive yet experience serious lifelong implications.  

Many common household items can also pose a significant hazard to children – looped curtain and blind cords (strangulation hazard), TV’s and bookcases (crush injuries) and electronic devices containing button batteries. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken to help keep kids safe.

Kidsafe aims to work with government, industry and the community to empower parents and carers to provide children with an environment that not only stimulates their development, but also reduces their risk of serious injury. 

Because at the end of the day, child safety is no accident.

 

SAFE BARRIERS SAVE LIVES

matt welsh

Blog contributed by Olympian, father of four and 'Safe Barriers Save Lives' campaign ambassador, Matt Welsh.

Spring is here and we are starting to (happily) wave goodbye to the winter chill.  It means that those long and warm summer days will be here before we know it and for most of us, those days will be filled with time spent outdoors, BBQ’s, holidays and of course… swimming.

As an Olympic swimmer, I have a great love for the water and believe that pools and spas can be a great addition to any household – especially to help cool off on those hot summer days. However, I am also aware of the potential dangers that the water can pose – particularly to young children.

Being a father of four, I am a strong advocate for safety in and around water for children of all ages.

A crucial point to always remember is that active adult supervision is the key to keeping children safe around water. It is important to remain within arm’s reach of children at all times - 20 seconds is all it takes for a toddler to drown.   

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children under 5 in Australia, with the home being the most common location for drowning incidents to occur.

So, as we roll into summer we need to ask ourselves - are our backyard pools and spas ready to be used safely?

Simply having a barrier around your pool or spa does not make it a safe space. Like many things around the home such as your car and even your heater, a regular service is necessary to ensure everything is still in working order. Your pool or spa barrier is no different.

In fact, a large number of swimming pool drownings incidents are a result of faulty or non-compliant pool fencing.

To make sure your pool or spa barrier is still in good working condition – regular maintenance is necessary. Over time, the functionality of your barrier can be affected by the weather and general wear and tear. It only takes 15 minutes to check your barrier thoroughly using Royal Life Saving Society Australia pool fencing app.

So, this daylight savings were inviting everyone to join the Kidsafe pool party (https://www.facebook.com/events/269682460185586/ ).

It’s not your regular pool party – it’s only going to last a few minutes and it’s going to save lives!

THE KIDSAFE POOL PARTY 01.10.17. Save the date. It’s the date that saves.

 

Identifying when your child's car safety seat isn’t safe

Child restraint blog pic

Blog contributed by Rob Newman, Director of the Australian Child Restraint Resource Initiative (ACRI).

So you think your child’s safety seat may be incorrect?

Passenger safety is easy in theory, but our road travelling community is often incorrectly influenced by perceptions of what is safe and what isn’t. This can seriously disadvantage parents and carers when making safe use decisions for their children.

How can you tell what to look for?

In general terms, misperceptions of what constitutes risks to safety are where all misuse practices begin. ACRI is confronted with this challenge everyday across all manner of community exposures and workplaces. To help address this challenge at least two key perspectives need to be clarified.

Although a variety of marketing messages revolve around the child’s age and comfort factors, best practices reflect something else.

  • Age has nothing to do with a safe environment; Suitability of the Safety Seat to the child’s size is paramount.
  • Comfort has very little to do with safety: In fact they are often at odds with each other.

Once we have these factors clear we can focus on what matters most, which involves two areas: Attachment to the vehicle and the correct daily use.

  1. The attachment of the Safety Seat to your vehicle. - Australian Child Safety Seats demand a three point anchoring method.
  • The vehicles seat belt or ISOFIX provides the two lower attachment points.
  • The Upper Tether Strap, connected to the correct vehicle anchorage point provides the third point.
  • All slackness of any and all attachment straps should be removed and some vehicle seat cushion compression used to ensure ‘reliable attachment’.
  • Monitoring of all of the above are required for ‘every trip’.
  1. The correct use of the Safety Seat - There are many factors - ensure all are correct.
  • Babies and small children must travel rear facing - How long is that for?
  • As long as the Safety Seat instructions say you can - just read the limit instructions*.
  • Offering protection from side impact risks.
  • Possibly use the centre seat position in the vehicle
  • If your Safety Seat has an adjustable head protection device, ensure it is positioned correctly.
  • Securing your child into their safety seat reliably. - What ensures that the harness is used correctly?
  • All passengers must have lower body restraint - as low as possible on their torso and upper body restraint - as close to the shoulder height as possible.
  • Straps and belts should be kept away from vulnerable neck / head areas
  • Remove all looseness or slack from the harness - Your child should be aware that they are wearing it - Do not leave it loose. (NB: It is difficult to over-tighten most harnesses, but always ensure there is breathing space of a couple of fingers clearance)*

Monitoring all above aspects are always required for ‘every trip’.

For some families there are a number of challenges that may make the above activities difficult to achieve. Not all Child Car Safety Seats are easy to use, even the instructions can be difficult to interpret. In addition, many vehicles also contribute additional difficulties to daily use requirements.

In all cases the theory above may not be easy to achieve. If at any time you experience difficulty when following the above guidelines always seek professional assistance. It’s a service provider’s job to ensure that your day to day activities are as easy to perform as possible as in this realm, ease of use is safety.

www.acri.com.au

*Always refer to the manufacturers instructions

 

5 Ways to be Prepared for a First Aid Accident

Tiny Hearts blog

As fellow parents and caregivers, we understand that the curious and adventurous nature of our
children can mean that a first aid incident can occur at any time or place. While it can be distressing to see your baby injured or hurt, it is important for parents to prepare themselves in advance for a first aid emergency and be ready to jump into action at any time!

We are joined today by one of our Community Support Centre Supporters, Tiny Hearts First Aid, to share their top five ways you can prepare yourself for a first aid incident with your little one:

  1. Keep important phone numbers close by
    You’ve got our favourite pizza shop or hairdresser’s numbers saved to your phone, but what about the ones that could get you out of a first aid emergency?

    Key emergency phone numbers (such as Poisons Hotline or Nurse on Call) should be kept in your phone and also written down at all times. We  recommend you to  stick a copy on the fridge or next to the phone - this way, any family member or friend can access them when needed!

    If you are a caregiver of children, you should have two of the child's updated emergency contacts  available. In the case of a first aid incident, it's important to let them know what happened and what action you took.
  2. Keep a record of their health and medication
    While we would love to predict and protect our little ones from first aid incidents, we can’t. Trips, bumps and scrapes simply happen!

    However, it is in your control and essential for parents to keep a record of any prior health conditions, such as allergies or asthma. This way, you can better prepare yourself (or anyone else minding bub) for what to do if the child were to undergo another episode.

    Keeping medication records is also super important. When administering medicine to bub, be sure to write down the type of medication (e.g., paracetamol or ibuprofen), the time and date it was delivered, and by whom. By keeping medication records, you can ensure that there is no doubling up when handing over to another caregiver.
  3. Keep a first aid kit handy
    It’s integral for every home to have a fully stocked and easily accessible first aid kit on hand. Tiny Hearts First Aid highlights equipment such as resuscitation masks, thermometers, ice packs and bandages as some of the most important for caregivers to keep in their first aid kit.
  4. Keep a folder of child health and safety apps on your phone:
    Lucky for us as parents born in this generation, there are lots of handy first aid apps that all parents or caregivers should keep on their phone. Tiny Hearts First Aid recommends their custom built app for anyone wanting to expand or refresh their first aid knowledge - simply search Tiny Hearts First Aid in your app store!

    Other great apps to keep on your smartphone are the Red Nose Safe Sleeping app by SIDS and Kids, and the Emergency + app developed by Australia's emergency services.
  5. Stay current with your first aid training:
    Now this one’s a given; without adequate first aid training, all of the apps and first aid kits in the world won't help you in a first aid emergency!

    Ensure you register yourself and any other key caregivers of your little one into a paediatric first aid course and refresh yourself annually to keep up to date with content.

---

Tiny Hearts is a registered training organisation (RTO #40664). For more information, please visit www.tinyheartsfirstaid.com

 

Top 5 Tips for Winter Safety

top 5 tips

1. Hot drinks and young children don’t mix

Hot drinks and cooking oils are the most common cause of scald injuries to young children. These scalds usually occur when a child pulls a cup down on themselves, or they pull on an item like a table cloth that causes a drink to fall. When warming up with a hot drink this winter, be sure to keep your mug in the centre of the table or bench so that a child can’t pull it down. Always put down your tea or coffee when nursing infants to avoid being knocked and spilling hot liquid onto the baby. More tips for preventing burns and scalds.

2. No extra blankets in the cot

While we adults like to pile on the blankets during winter, remember that doonas, sheepskins or extra blankets should never be placed inside a cot. Extra bedding can cover a baby’s face and cause suffocation. During the colder months, dress your baby in warmer sleep-clothes, or consider using an infant sleeping bag with a fitted neck to avoid having to use a blanket. More tips on safe sleeping.

3.Set your water temperature to a maximum of 50 degrees

Did you know that at 60 degrees, water can cause a serious burn within one second? Take the temperature down to 50 degrees and it takes 5 minutes. Having a plumber set your water temperature to a maximum of 50 degrees can protect your child from a serious burn injury and potentially life-long scarring. More tips for preventing burns and scalds.

4. Secure your Television

There is a television in almost every home, but not many people are aware of the risk that our TVs can pose to curious young kids. Every year, many children are seriously injured from furniture or appliances falling onto them. The majority of these incidents involve children who are under four years of age. Unstable furniture like TVs and drawers should be secured to the wall with anchors or brackets. These items can be purchased from your local hardware or appliance store. This ten minute task could save a child’s life. More tips on TV and furniture safety.

5. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that can have potentially fatal affects. Gas appliances should be checked regularly, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Energy Safe Victoria recommends having your gas heaters checked by a professional once every two years at minimum. Visit the Chase and Tyler Foundation website for more advice on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

For more tips on how to prepare your home for a safe winter, please visit http://kidsafevic.com.au/images/stories/pdfs/Winter_Tune-up.pdf

What else do you do to make your home safe for winter?

 

The Myth about Child ‘Proof’ Caps

Do you know what one of the most common causes of childhood poisoning is? It’s an everyday product that you will find in almost every home, car or handbag.

It’s Paracetamol.

In 2016, the Victorian Poisons Information Centre received 2,443 calls about paracetamol poisoning. The majority of calls related to children aged between 1 – 4 years. This is not surprising, as toddlers will put anything they can find into their mouths and often what they do find – is paracetamol.

paracetamol

“But aren’t medication packages child ‘proof’?”

When it comes to medicines and other poisonous products like household cleaners, the reality is that the caps on these products are child resistant, not child proof.

What’s the difference? Well, child resistant packaging is designed to be difficult to open, but not impossible. For packaging to be deemed child resistant, a sample of 200 children between the ages of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 test to see if they are able to open the packaging. If no more than 30 children can open the packaging in five minutes before a demonstration, and no more than 40 of the 200 children can open it after a demonstration, then the packaging is deemed ‘child resistant’.

It is important to note that children who participate in the testing process are only able to use their hands to try and open the caps – something that many adults and elderly people struggle to do! However, parents of young children would know that they explore by placing everything in their mouths – if they do this, they are often able to bite down on the child resistant cap and twist to open it. Sometimes older siblings can even help toddlers to open the caps!

The moral of the story is – parents and carers cannot rely on child resistant packaging alone to keep children safe from accidental poisoning. All medications – including paracetamol - should be kept up high and out of reach in a locked cupboard. The same also goes for any poisonous products, including detergents and pesticides.

If you need to keep medication in the fridge, place it in a small, lockable container and push it towards the back of the fridge (out of eyesight of hungry children!).

And if you ever think your child has come into contact with a poisonous substance, take the product container to the phone and call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 – this is a great number to have saved as a contact in your home and mobile phone!

For more information on reducing the risk of poisoning in your home, check out our fact sheet.

What is the strangest thing your child has tried to eat? Let us know in the comments below!

3 tips for setting up a portable cot

When heading away for the weekend, visiting family, or sending the kids off on a sleep over, portable cots are great for ensuring that your baby still has a safe place to sleep. However, any parent or carer who has set up a portable cot knows that this can be a stressful task!

portacor

We’ve put together some tips for setting up a portable cot, so that your baby can sleep safely - and your sanity remains intact!

  1. Pack the instructions
    This might sound silly, but having the instructions can save you a lot of time and confusion when erecting the cot. It is also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the folding ends are securely locked in and there is no chance of the cot collapsing on your child during the night.

  2. Use the mattress that is supplied with the cot
    The mattress that is supplied with the cot should be snug fitting, so that there are no gaps between the mattress and the side of the cot that could trap your baby’s head and cause suffocation. This mattress should also be firm enough so that it cannot cover a baby’s face.

  3. Check the room for hazards
    A new place might mean new hazards. Ensure that you set up the portable cot away from any windows or hanging curtain and blind cords. Do not place any items in the portable cot that could cover your baby’s face. This includes pillows, cot bumpers, or toys. If you are leaving your baby overnight with your parents or a babysitter, check that they know how to create a safe sleeping environment.

Remember that portable cots should not be used on a permanent basis. For more information on safe sleeping for infants, please visit our safe-sleeping page to find out more.

Do you have any other tips for setting up a portable cot?

Blurb:

Kidsafe Victoria is part of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a safer world for kids. To find out more about what we do, check out our website: www.kidsafevic.com.au

Emma Cockburn on Driveway Safety

Emma Cockburn on Driveway Safety

On the 16th April 2011, our world was changed forever in an instant, when daddy came home from work - like he did every other day - reversed the tool trailer and ute into the garage, and accidentally ran over our youngest of four beautiful little girls, Georgina. The effect was instant, and we lost our baby girl on the spot.

We had thought, like any other parent, that our kids were safe in their own home. We had deliberately built our house with kids in mind; play areas at one end of the house, garage at the other, a safe fenced-off backyard area where they could play, well away from the garage and driveway.

It never occurred to us that the access door between the house and garage would be an issue.  Standard building practice (as we knew, running our own residential building business) was to have all internal door handles at a height of 900mm from the floor. If only we had known ahead of time about installing a self-closer, and placing the door handle higher up out of a toddler’s reach!

Keeping Kids Safe around Cars

Every day we get into our cars without a second thought- to take the kids to day care, school, swimming lessons, soccer, go shopping for groceries, or to get to work and home again.

Every time we get into our cars without that second thought, is an occasion where an accident could occur unexpectedly. In Australia, approximately 60 children are severely injured, and at least 6 or 7 die every year because of Low Speed Vehicle Run Over (LSVRO) accidents.

In our rushed everyday world, we are distracted by phones, emails, thoughts of work, or simply the mountain of chores we have to get done once we’ve got the bigger kids to school. Even without those distractions, we may think we know where our kids are, then in a flash they are gone, as they move so quickly. LSVRO accidents can happen in a matter of seconds. However, simple measures may help prevent these tragic consequences.

The key words to remember are SUPERVISE, SEPARATE, SEE.

SUPERVISE:

Children are unpredictable, so close, active supervision by the adults around them is the best protection.

Active supervision means being there with children when getting into or out of cars, when seeing visitors off. It means physically checking where the kids are when a vehicle is moving on, off or around your property.

Teach children that cars are not toys, and we shouldn’t play in or around them. Treat the driveway like a road- would you let your children play on the road? Set up a system so that everyone knows where the kids are when coming and going - for example, ‘I know Mum’s due home from work in a minute, I’ll just check where everyone is and make sure they are together in the lounge room.’

SEPARATE:

Separating children from where vehicles are can help prevent LSVRO accidents. As parents, we are human and cannot be everywhere at once, especially when we have more than one child to chase after! So, we ask that people look at their own home environments and consider:

  • Is it possible to fence the driveway or is there a safe, fenced off area in the backyard where children can play, where there is no access to garages and driveways?
  • Do you have a garage attached to your house, with an access door between the two? Does it have a high handle/lock, self closer, and swing into the house so children cannot push it open into the garage?
  • Do you keep the front and back door locked when everyone is playing in the house? Many people have stories of small children suddenly discovering they can reach, and open, the door handle and next thing they are out on the driveway or even road!

If there is a locked door or gate, or fence or wall between a car and a child- there is less chance of an accident happening. (For more details, click here).

SEE:

Make a habit of taking the long way round to the driver’s door, before getting in to drive your vehicle, to check if anyone or anything is there. Accidents can happen when the vehicle moves forward as well as in reverse. Remember that reversing cameras and sensors are great tools- but they will not stop an accident happening. We always need to:

  • Be aware of what is going on around us;
  •  Keep using all mirrors and reversing cameras if available; and
  •  Check over shoulders and be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots.

Remember - kids are quick - no technology is a replacement for an alert driver!

These measures are appropriate not just in our own homes, but anywhere you take your children to.

Talk with your family and friends – and any babysitters - so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to vehicles and your children. How will you get the adults in your children’s lives to help you put ‘Supervise, Separate, See’ into action at your place and theirs?

The Georgina Josephine Foundation aims to promote awareness of low speed vehicle run over (LSVRO) prevention measures, and to support families affected by such accidents. Dealing the aftermath of a LSVRO can be devastating for all involved, so if you, or someone you know has been affected by such an incident, please contact us on 02 6382 6930, via our website www.gjfoundation.com.au or message us through our Facebook page.

 

Welcome to our Blog

Welcome to Kidsafe Victoria's blog! Stay tuned for all things child safety!

 

 

Who is watching the kids?

Last month we shared some common child safety myths. This month, we are bringing you another misconception about child safety, one that is most prevalent on public holidays like Labour Day.

Summer days spent around the pool can be great fun for families. Having lots of adults present may seem like there is added supervision for children in the pool, but did you know that this situation can actually lead to a lapse in vigilance?

pexels photo 61129

Image source: Pexels

Lifesavers often refer to the ‘everyone is watching’ phenomenon, when adults become less vigilant supervising their children in the pool, when they believe that one of the other adults present is supervising for them.

This is exactly the situation that turned into a nightmare for American mother Rachel, when her daughter almost drowned in a backyard spa:

‘I left her sitting on the deck chair as I packed up a few things. We had six adults standing there so I felt like I could relax a bit. After all, what could go wrong with so much supervision?’

Luckily, Rachel’s daughter was pulled from the spa and was able to be revived. Later, doctors said that in another 30 seconds, her daughter’s heart would have stopped. The terrifying incident left Rachel asking the question, ‘How does this happen? It took only minutes. There were plenty of adults around. None of us heard a thing.’

Rachel’s story is not uncommon. Toddler drowning is quick and silent. 20 seconds and a few centimetres is all it takes, which is why constant and active adult supervision is crucial for children around any type of water.

How to avoid the ‘everyone is watching’ trap:

In situations like BBQ’s or gatherings when there are several adults and children around the pool, nominate one adult at a time who is responsible for supervising the children.

If there are lots of children, you may need to have more than one designated supervisor at a time.

This role can be rotated throughout the day, so that everyone gets a chance to relax and there is no confusion about who is watching the kids.

Life Saving Victoria suggest that the nominated person should wear a ‘supervisor hat’, which needs to be taken off and given to the next person when you leave the pool area.

In the case of toddlers, they need to be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times around the water.

These simple steps, together with checking your pool fence and having up-to-date CPR skills, could potentially save a child’s life.

For more information on keeping children safe around water, please visit http://kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety

Have you ever experienced the ‘everyone is watching’ situation? What do you do to keep children safe around the pool?

Blurb:

Kidsafe Victoria is part of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a safer world for kids. To find out more about what we do, check out our website: www.kidsafevic.com.au

5 Myths about Child Safety

Children are naturally curious and often don’t recognise danger- in fact, more often than not, they seem to actively seek it!

There is a lot of advice around how to keep our kids from getting into sticky situations. Some of the advice is helpful, some is funny and some is just completely untrue. So we thought we’d help you separate fact from fiction with our first blog.

Here are 5 of the most common child safety myths:

Myth 1. Kids are going to get hurt, you can’t stop it from happening.

It is true, kids are going to take risks and cuts and scrapes are a part of growing up. However, a serious unintentional injury is very different from a scraped knee.

In Victoria alone, approximately 19 children die due to unintentional injuries every year.

These serious injuries are preventable – and we hope that we can provide you with some useful strategies to keep your child safe.

Myth 2. Drowning is noisy.

We’ve all seen the movies where a person who is drowning waves their arms frantically and calls for help.

The truth is- drowning is actually silent.

A toddler who is drowning is unlikely to cry out or wave their arms around. They can swallow water and drown in just 20 seconds (read one Mother’s story of just how fast children can get into trouble in the water).

 

drowning crop

Figure Source: Pixabay.com

Drowning is quick and silent, so make sure children are always within arm’s reach and that you never take your eyes off children around water.

Myth 3. Age is the best indicator of when to move your child into their next child car restraint

It is a common misconception that a child should move to the next child car restraint / seat belt once they reach a certain age- but did you know that it is safer for children to remain in their current restraint for as long as they fit its size limit? This includes leaving children in booster seats for as long as possible, even if they are over 7 years old.

All new child restraints come with shoulder height markers that show exactly when a child is able to progress to the next restraint. 

age restraint

Children should only move to the next restraint once they exceed the maximum height limit, not just because they have celebrated a birthday.  

For more information, please read the National Child Restraint Guidelines

Myth 4. Reversing sensors and cameras eliminate the risk of driveway run-overs

All cars have a blind spot and while reversing cameras are useful in providing greater visibility, they don’t eliminate this blind spot completely. It still may be difficult to notice a small child behind the car.

Children can also move surprisingly fast and find themselves in dangerous situations. Recently, a Perth toddler was tragically killed in driveway run-over incident. The car was fitted with reversing sensors.

It is important that we don’t become complacent when using proximity sensors, as there is no substitute for active, adult supervision.

Myth 5. Poisons with child proof caps can only be opened by an adult

The caps on medication bottles and some cleaning products are designed to be difficult for children to open – but not impossible. In fact, adults often find them harder to open than toddlers, who can often defeat the lid by using their mouths. Keep in mind that these caps are child resistant, not child proof, therefore all medications and cleaning products need to be kept at least 1.5 metres off the ground in a locked cupboard. For more tips to prevent poisoning, click here.

Is there another common child safety myth that we have missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Blurb:

Kidsafe Victoria is part of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a safer world for kids. To find out more about what we do, check out our website: www.kidsafevic.com.au