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General Myth series:

Myth #1G: “A Child Restraint Fitter’s main job is to fit Child Safety Seats to the car”

This is a common belief of many parents. However, a professional ‘installation’ service is 60% consultancy, 25% educational and just 15% ‘doing for’. This is why we prefer the description Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).
Appropriately trained service providers’ operate at a level that not only assures the safety of the passenger into the future, but also protects their businesses reputation along with other liabilities. They can only achieve this with a full understanding of safe automotive travel, practical and advisory environments. 
Myth #2G: 
“I must be accredited to work with Safety Seats”
Not really, that’s not a governmental requirement except in some applications for vehicle modifications.  However, when working in any specialised field it’s a prudent business decision to have an accredited affiliation.
Despite being common belief in this field Accreditation is not granted solely due to the completion of a particular training program. Accreditation comes from maintaining a membership with supportive network that provides technical updates, on demand technical and customer support, record keeping – reporting resources, annual auditing, guideline documentations and assistance with insurance issues. 

Myth #3G: “Getting someone else to ‘Fit’ my Safety Seat is important”

When a new parent hears that it’s important to have someone ‘fit’ their seat, the task is often deflected to a relative who, in the past has installed their own children’s Safety Seats. Such family assistance can be helpful, but who fits a Safety Seat is not necessarily as important as what the day to day user learns about monitoring and ‘growing’ the Safety Seat into the future as it's used and the child grows. These are devices that need to relate, at all times, to the child’s size, family conditions and functional limitations as well as the vehicle. A Professional Child restraint fitter considers all of these factors and aims to prepare and ‘future proof’ the parent. 

Myth #4G: “All passenger vehicles have the equipment required for the installation of all Safety Seats”

It surprises many people to learn that not all passenger vehicles are created equally when it comes to the child restraint equipment they’re legislated to have built in. Upper tether anchorages and ISOFIX lower anchors are often incompatible with Safety Seat products causing attachment and functionality difficulties. The Vehicles Seat cushion design influences these factors as well and even the Seat Belts themselves vary greatly causing additional challenges for Child Car Safety Seat installations. There are infinite variations.

Myth #5G: “Child restraints should not move more than 2 cm when pushed on or it’s an unsafe installation”

This is often quoted and even published and yet, unless it is offered within context of pressure applied is a completely unhelpful piece of advice. Even so, no such a test criteria is applied when Safety Seats are certified. If the instructions were followed correctly a Safety Seat will usually move, sometimes considerably, with moderate side pressure (applied low at the Seat Belt pathway position).  A Professional Service provider usually uses techniques to minimise side movement to be what we like to call reliable attachment.  Some movement is necessary, the less movement the unit moves during a crash the higher the load acting directly on the passenger. There’s a balance to consider.

Myth #6G: “My child’s safe to stop using a booster now as they’re over 145cm tall.”

This factor is commonly quoted in authoritive publications; however it is a misleading approach. The overall height never assures a safe travel environment. Even adults well over 145cm may be travelling at risk of injury if the Seat Belt placement is inappropriate. Quoting an overall height factor, in conjunction with the way that vehicles are constructed, with Seat Belt positioning varying widely, is general enough to be completely unhelpful. Let’s clarify that; unhelpful at informing people what is and what isn’t an injury risk. Being short or tall is not necessarily a risk if the Seat Belt relationship to the passenger is correct.

Myth #7G: “If my child is Rear facing they are supremely protected”

Rear Facing for babies and small children is an absolute necessity, as it has been proven to be a safer way to travel than forward facing. However, it is not safer for every circumstance and or without being aware of the other risks that rear facing can bring. Keep your child rear facing for as long as your Safety Seat product will allow by its size limitation, but at the same time be vigilant of the other risks Rear Facing brings.  Two examples; (i) The child cannot be monitored as easily and may displace their straps or unbuckle themselves. (ii) Always consider any items further to the rear of the vehicle, especially but not exclusive to Wagons, 4WD’s and Hatches. Loose items - ‘missiles’ can cause serious injury to Rear Facing children during a collision.


Welcome to anyone trying to find the best way to manage child safety

It's generally believed that 'Child restraints are simple'.

In principle that's completely true, however, ..........

If the use of these products is so simple, then why do studies report incorrect use in excess of 80%?

(These statistics have been consistently and repeatedly reported by road authorities across Australia for over 30 years.) 

Something has clearly not been working, so maybe there is another way that we can improve child transit safety.

If you've been drawn down a path in believing that one or even a few of the points below are enough consideration for a child's safety, then you've been disadvantaged.

Some stakeholders imply that:

  • It's all about who 'installed it' - ('It' being the child car safety seat')
  • It has to be 'rock solid'  (Download guideline sheet)
  • It's a particular product that will make 'the' difference  in a collision -
  • Only a particular seat position in the car is correct -
  • The road rule provides a safe environment -
  • The best practice is -
  • The vehicle to use is -
  • My friend has the solution -

In fact, every one of the factors on the chart below needs to be considered with every child's transport needs and in many cases for every trip. Every child's safe transit environment is unique and should be treated as such.

Why take on board Generic information when Specifics are all that matter?

Please consider the total environment and learn how each factor actually relates to your child's safe travel needs.

Have you ever wondered why you get conflicting advice when you ask an apparently simple question? Click here to find out why.

'NHMRC Best Practice Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles' (PDF Download)

          Quick Find:  Most commonly asked questions.  

Q: How can I obtain training on child restraints?

Q: What is the maximum rearward facing restraint use factor?

Q: When is it appropriate to move my child out of a Booster seat? 

Q: What are the 'Basic safe travel' principles?

Q: How does someone learn about installing child restraints?   Workplace specifics

Q: When should I turn my Baby's Car Seat around?

Q: Why is one of my child's harness straps loose and the other is tight?

Q: When should my child use a harness?
Q: What's happening with the new child restraint laws?

Q: When can my child ride in the front seat?

Q: Which vehicle seat should I install my child restraint to?

Q: What happens when my child is taller or heavier than the average child?

Q: Can I still use a 'Half' or Base only Booster Seat?

Q: What's going on with Isofix?

Q: Dickie Seats (Additional seating)

Q: Do child restraints have an expiry date?


          FAQ's group index:

                              1. Anchor provision.

                              2. Looseness of restraints.

                              3. Escaping toddlers.

                              4. Air bags.

                              5. Seat belts and Harnesses.

                              6. Car purchasing.

                              7. Choosing restraints or vehicle seat positions.

                              8. Tether strap difficulties.

                              9. Child restraint systems overviewed.

                            10. Twists in Seat Belts and Harnesses

                            11. Road Rule requirements

The basic safe travel principles
  1. Take time: In preparing for your trip and whilst you're driving.
  2. Ensure you keep a safe distance from the car in front.
  3. Always travel at a speed which will allow you to avoid a collision.
  4. Look as far up the road as possible - plan ahead.
  5. Use a restraint suitable to the passenger, this means:
    1. In the case of an infant or young child, a rearward facing restraint is necessary for as long as the product limits allows you to. This may mean up to two years or more with some Australian products.
    2. The placement of the straps or seat belt must be correct in relation to the passengers body ie; low and tight across the hips and providing upper body restraint across shoulder/s away from vulnerable part of their body. Eg: head or neck.
    3. Consider head protection factors, use the centre seat position of the vehicle if possible and or ensure head protection factors of any child restraint are positioned correctly
    4. Check that the restraint and/or vehicle is providing 'whiplash' protection ie; has the passenger some restraint behind their head to avoid the extension rearward of their neck. Head restraints (headrests) must be suitably positioned.
    5. With child restraints always be mindful of their limitations (read the labels).
  6. If you're using a child restraint ensure that it complies with the AS/NZS 1754 standard. (It's best if the restraint is less than 10 years old: Check the build date on the product)
  7. If you're using any child restraint or restraint accessory ensure you install and use it correctly every trip.
  8. Never rely alone, on someone else having installed it at some time.

These safe travel principles have been pertinent for over thirty years and are still where the focus for safe travel of all passengers should start.

1. Anchor provision:

Q:   How do I find the correct anchor location in my vehicle?
  Check the owner's handbook of your vehicle and follow the index carefully being sure that you are reading 'Australian child restraint advice' not international information.
  Failing the availability of an owner's handbook, call the vehicle manufacturers distributor.
Best advice is to always confirm the information in writing.
Q:  My tether is in the way of my luggage, pram etc: Can I hook up to something other than the designated anchor location?
No. You must only connect to the designated anchor location. Hooking up anything else maybe unsafe. It may also create loadings on other vehicle components that have not been tested under collision conditions.
Q: Can the floor be drilled to move the anchor forward in my hatch wagon or people mover type vehicle?
  Generally No. This type of modification can only be done if it can be SURE that the seat frame and recliner mechanism will not collapse under the increased collision loadings. (Engineering approval is required).
Q: Can I have an anchor fitted to my Pre 1976 Sedan or other Pre ADR34 vehicle including commercials?
  In many cases, yes. But, not all. Always check with your relevant road safety authority in your State or Territory to find out who could provide such modification services. ACRI has many service provider members who carry out this work. Search from our 'Find a Professional Service provider' menu.

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2. Looseness of Restraints:

Q: Should the restraint move about?
  Ideally No. For a more satisfactory fitment and one, which is less likely to cause unnecessary injury to all passengers, we suggest a firm fitment.
  If you've followed the manufacturers' instructions accurately, some movement may be present. Despite a common opinion, pushing on a restraint is not a valid test and may only loosen the seatbelt's relationship with the restraint. If you want a firmer fitment, then there are many ways that can be achieved. Your particular restraint may have device that can contribute to that, otherwise a 'Gated buckle' or deploying the ALR seatbelt (if available) may be useful for this purpose.
  If you're unsure of your interpretation of the manufacturers instructions, Query any movement. You may need to consult with an experienced child restraint service provider.

Going by the Australian Standards, engineering and testing processes a restraint does not have to be 'rock solid' to be safe.  Be mindful that even mild tension on the vehicle seat cushion may damage the vehicles trim, especially leather trim. Restraints can also be damaged by over-tensioning.
Q: What is the correct adjustment of my child's harness? (ie: For integral harness.  Not applicable to 'H' or Protecta Harness applications)
  As tight and comfortable as possible. You should not be able to pinch a fold in a chest strap.
  No slack, No twists.
Q: Why do I need to use a towel? (For the fitting of my infant restraint)
  Many vehicle seats do not provide a suitable angle for baby's safe and comfortable travel needs, so the angle of an infant restraint may need to be adjusted. Towels are very versatile for this purpose. Your vehicle may not need this but, if it does then a towel may assist in doing the job properly.

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3. Escaping toddlers:

Q: How do I keep my child from getting out of his / her car seat harness?
  Firstly, check that the harness shoulder height is correct (Use the slots level or above top of the shoulders) and then check that the harness is tight enough. (See next question)
  Your child needs to learn that car travel with out correct harness use is not an option.
  In extreme cases as a last resort and only if you have exhausted the tips below, you may find relief in using a product such as the 'Houdini Stop'.   NB: Children may still escape such products if they have mind to.

Here are some tips to try:

  • If your child has wiggled out of their shoulder straps while driving, it's recommended that you calmly pull your car up as soon and as safe as possible to do so. refit the harness and check the child is comfortable (discomfort may be due to 'bunched' clothing and this can encourage a child to escape). Emphasise to your child the importance of knowing that they can feel the straps over their chest every time they travel.
  • Ensure that the harness straps are in the proper level slots (as close to the shoulder height as possible) and that they are adjusted so that there is no slack / looseness in them.
  • Set a positive audible and visual example by making a commentary when buckling yourself in. eg: "daddies getting his seat belt, i'll tighten it around my body, do i feel it against my chest? no i'll move it to here… etc:
  • Have some activities in the car for distracting the child. (ensure they aren't heavy items or have any other unsafe aspects to them that could inflict an injury in a collision)
  • Make sure the child doesn't become bored by being in the vehicle for too long and they've had plenty of exercise before a long trip.
  • Involve your child in securing 'teddy' or their favorite doll in a toy car seat to assist in growing their awareness.
  • If necessary, we can set up a natural consequence scenario to encourage compliance. Eg:  You will never arrive at their favorite destination.  "We will never get to where you want to go unless we are wearing our seat belt / harness. "No harness, no travel, no play centre". 

Q: What is the correct adjustment of my child's harness? (ie: For integral harness.  Not applicable to 'Child Safety Harness' or 'Protecta' Harness applications)
  As tight and comfortable as possible. You should not be able to pinch a fold in a chest strap.
If there is any looseness take it out through the adjuster.
  Using a 'fingers under the strap' guide is a means to not have the adjustment too tight and will mean different results for small infants to large children.

Just remember, no slack and no twists. 


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4. Air Bags:

Q: What's the problem with air bags and children?
  Air bags are designed for an adult's mass and may not provide an appropriate impact environment for children. Here's some guidance.
  Where there are side Air bags or side Air Curtains fitted, no passenger should sleep with their head against the side of the car.
  Rearward facing restraints should never be used where there is a forward mounted air bag.

Keep children away from air bag systems if you have any doubt.

If you must use a front seat position where there is a forward mounted air bag installed, ensure that the front seat is moved all the way back, that the child is using a suitable child restraint, correctly installed or the seat belt properly positioned and adjusted and they do not lean forward.
  Check with vehicle manufacturers' agent in regard to deactivation of an Air bag system if necessary. (NB: This is often not possible in Australian delivered vehicles.)

Refer to the vehicle manufacturers handbook in respect to the suitable use of child restraints near air bags and heed their advice.  Be aware that you are reading advice pertinent to Australia in regard to vehicles imported from overseas.

(Often the advice labels fitted to vehicles promote advisory practices and are often, good advice but are not necessarily comment from a local guidance or road rule standpoint.)

Yes there are times, when if you follow the advice you read, either from the vehicle manufacturer or from other sources, you wont be able to use any seat in the vehicle for child restraints.  This is of course totally impractical for families. The top 4 answers in this group are the usual advice given in relation to Australian requirements in relation to Air bags.

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5. Seat belts / Additional Harnesses:

Q: What is a 'Lap' Seat belt?
  A Seat belt that only holds the passengers into the vehicle by the hips, that is, it runs across the lap.
  A Lap only belt should only be used with booster systems if a 'H' Harness is used as well. Never on its own!
  The easiest type of belt to use for child restraint systems. NB: Must be an anchor location available!
Q: What is a 'Lap Sash' Seat belt?
  A Seat belt that offers the passenger upper body restraint as well as holding them into the vehicle by the hips. This is because the belt runs across the shoulder area as well as the lap.
  The best type of Seat belt to use for upper body restraint. BUT!
  Ensure the 'Sash section' of belt does not contact the wearers face or neck. Guide it away over the shoulder. NB: This is not a Comfort issue, this is a Safety issue! Comfort sleeves are not sash guiding devices.
Q: What is a statically locking 'Lap Sash' Seat belt?
  These are found in many modern cars, mainly Toyotas, Subaru's and some European vehicles. It's a 'Lap Sash' Seat belt that can have a locking mechanism activate while the vehicle is stationary. It is activated by extending the belt to its full extent from the retractor mechanism and then allowing the belt to rewind. Often (but not always) an audible locking or 'clicking' noise can be heard as it retracts. This offers extra protection from the child playing with and extending the belt away from themselves and or the restraint coming loose.
  Ideal for booster use.
  Creates difficulty if not impossibility with 'H' Harness use.
Q: What does a harness mean?
  A Harness is a safety restraint constructed from belt webbing / straps. There are a number of styles.

Integral Harness.

  A '5 or 6 point Safety Harness' is constructed into an infant / child restraint offering two upper body / shoulder straps, crotch and hip level straps, usually connecting at the front using a buckle.

Additional Harness. (Also known as Accessory harnesses)

  One type often called 'Child Safety Harness', also known as an 'H' Harness is an additional device that is used with a seat belt at the lap area. It needs to be connected to a child restraint anchorage as well.      NB: Be careful in using this product. See adjustment Q below!

A 'Protecta' harness is a more recent development of this theme which works similarly to a 'H' harness except that the adjustment is in front of the child, secured under a cover. ( Benefit: More likely to fit where the anchor is very close to the car seat back. i.e.; 'short hook up' situations)

Additionally, there may be a circumstance where using it through the slots in the later model Safe n Sound 'Maxi Rider' or Hi Liner Boosters and other similar products may offer an advantage. NB: Be careful in using this product, you need to take time in getting any harness adjusted correctly.  See adjustment Q below!

Q: What is the correct adjustment of my additional harness? (NB:  Not applicable for integral harness)
  Firstly, adjust the lap seat belt section as tight and comfortable as possible, and secondly, remove all slack or looseness from the upper tether strap adjuster second. NB: Do not stretch the seat belt up away from the hips or thighs with this adjustment.
  No slack, looseness or twists in any of the straps or belts.

Q: When should my child use a harness?
Children should always have upper body restraint and harness straps are one way that this can be provided.  Discussions about harness use can be confusing. So first check the previous two answers above: 

Children can benefit enormously from a child restraint that incorporates an integral harness system, so they should remain using that restraint type for as long as possible. This means up until they have grown out of it. 

NB: Forward facing child restraints manufactured to the AS/NZS 1754 Standard prior to the 2010 version have integral harness systems that are limited to 18Kgs.)

For restraints manufactured to the 2010 or later 2013 Standards, shoulder height markers stitched onto the trim are the limiting factor. There's no weight limit nominated on these products. Also, there are now two (2) types. 'B' & 'G'. The Type 'B is designed generally for children of approx up to 4 years of age and the type 'G' can handle larger children of up to approx 8 years of age. Remember age is only a guide, the child's size factors always override their age in regard to safe and appropriate restraint use.

This also applies to multi use 'Hybrid' combination child restraint/booster products that may allow an additional harness attachment.  Regardless of the restraint type, the harness will have a use limit stated on the product.

The belief that an additional or accessory harnesses (See 'What does a harness mean?' heading above for clarity) should be used for larger children once served our community better than it does now, when our vehicles were simpler and 'Lap only' seat belts were more prevalent. NB: Many of today's modern vehicles do not allow the easy, safe use of additional harness systems.
The belief that 'a product', in this case an additional harness, is safer than any other product or practice is often misleading. Using these products safely is reliant on the correct adjustment and daily use. To instal and then expect this product to provide an on going safe environment is unrealistic.   Users of Harness systems must be able to understand, install and / or adjust them appropriately as required, and only then can they be considered a safe option.

Q:  Why is one of my child's harness straps loose and the other is tight?  (NB: For integral Harnesses only)
  Although there may be a mechanical reason for this; such as one strap end being caught on or over something or installed incorrectly to the seat frame, chassis or to the splitter plate or adjuster. The most common cause is that the baby or child is sitting slightly to the left or right side of the restraint. Ie: Off centre.  Even only 1 cm off centre can make quite a difference in this respect. An easy way to check this is this:  Remove the child, connect the harnes tongues into the buckle and tighthen the harness to remove all the looseness. The crotch buckle should be aligned to the centre of the restraint. If this is not the case then further investigation is required. Regardless of the finding, it's always prudent to check that the attachment and routing of harness straps is in compliance with the restraints instructions.
6. Car purchasing:
Q: Which car is best for multiple child restraints?

When trying to find a new vehicle compatible with multiple restraint use consider these criteria. 

Remember that many myths persist. One is that a larger car will solve the problem, that is not necessarily true. Many small cars are more accommodating.  Check the four points below:

  Check for the most internal width at hip height (Measure with doors closed) as well as the width at head height. Many vehicles get narrower toward the roof and this will be influenced by the widths of the head protection section of modern child car safety seats
  The vehicle seat must have the least amount of contouring in both the base and squab. (ie: At straight as possible)
  The seat belt buckles are best with 'left to right' flexibility and not be stiffly mounted or trimmed into the seat cushion.
  Ensure you have enough approved anchor locations. If you ask sales staff the question of 'How many anchors does this vehicle have?' ensure that they have obtained the answers from the vehicle owners handbook and that you have also confirm it for yourself. (Many people buy vehicles based on the wrong information such as counting in invalid cargo tie down attachments.)
Also check that the rear vehicle seat space in the forward direction is sufficient for your infant or rearward facing restraint to be placed at the correct recline angle.  This may seriously affect front seat passengers or the driver having a safe driving position. 

Download a 'Choose a suitable vehicle guideline fact sheet'

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7. Choosing restraints or vehicle seat positions.
Q: Which is the safer position in the car for my baby / child?
  The centre rear (of a normal 5 seater vehicle) is often reported as the statistically safest position, but, how does using this position affect: -
  Your driving position?
  Your well-being, like your back or stomach muscles? Are you capable of such a difficult lift?
  Other passenger's safe access? Can your older child still get in and out safely?
  Functionality; does the seating position allow installation? Is there enough space or does the vehicle have the correct equipment fitted to this position to do the job correctly? (Such as an anchorage location or suitable seat belt.)

 NB: When you have more than one child restraint or passenger to consider, the above items still apply. There is no reason to consider an infants location is any more important that any other passenger. Other than considering:

 Other passengers. Will they interfere and or annoy each other. A peaceful car is a safer car.
 See about Airbags in Section 4
Q: When should I move my child out of their booster seat?  Refer to the 5 step test below:

1. Can the child sit with their back against the vehicles seat backrest?
2. Do the child's knees reach the front edge of the seat allowing them to bend their legs comfortably?

3. Does the sash (shoulder) belt sit across the middle of the shoulder, not on the neck or off the shoulder over the arm?
4. Is the lap belt sitting low across the hips ie; across the lap, possibly touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated comfortably like this for the whole trip? 
  • If you answered a "Yes" to all 5 Questions, then your child is ready to move out of a Booster seat, into an Adult Lap/sash seatbelt (ie: Three point or across shoulder seatbelt).
  • If you answered "No" to one or more, then they may still benefit from using a booster seat.
    NB: WARNING!  A 145cm height is often mentioned as 'safe to move out' of a booster seat. This advice is misleading and offers no guarantee of a safer environment.
  1. Passenger size has everything to do with appropriate restraint in relation to the specific restraint device in use. If the seat belt sash in any particular vehicle cuts across your neck, then it's unsafe. This happens to adults, so children are obviously at risk as well.
  2. A large number of Booster products are not designed to cope with a child of anywhere near a 145cm in height.
Q: When can my child ride in the front seat?
  Children should always travel in the rear seats if possible.
  Keep children away from air bag positions if possible. See Q point #4.
  The road rules mentions 7 years of age as a minimum guide. See Q point #11.
The road rule does allow for a passenger of less than 7 years of age in the front seat under certain circumstances, but the passengers' level of safety is what matters most.        See Q point #11.
    The 'safest' answers are generally:
  • Don't put children in the front seats unless there is no other choice.
  • Always put the largest child to the front as a last position available.
  • Always consider restraint products and practices, such as boosters and sash guide devices to ensure a safe seat belt environment.
  • Always adjust the seat belt properly.
Q: How old does my child have to be to move from a 'car seat to a booster'?
  The law refers to age and a child's size aspects relate to a child restraints maximum usage guidelines. As 4 years old is the road rule minimum age to place children into a booster seat, the 14kgs entry level mentioned on earlier compliant booster products is certainly not a suitable factor.  What always matters most though is the passengers' level of safety. The 'safest' answers are generally.
  Keep your child in the restraint suitable for their size (or weight if applicable to your restraint product) till they grow out of it if you can.
  If you have to use a booster for a child where there is a Lap Only Seat belt installed to the vehicle then an additional Harness such as an 'H' harness must be used.
Q: When is my child too tall for the restraint I'm using?
  Protection from whiplash and head injury is an aim for all forward facing restraint systems, so always make sure that the child's eye level is not above the back of the child restraint. (Applies to booster use as well)

Most Booster seat product have a height limit included in their instructions which warns of using a booster if the child's eye level is above the back of the vehicles seat. This includes any vehicle head restraint devices (Head rests) as well.

Q: Why does my baby have to travel rearward facing?
  It's safer to spread the forces of a collision across a fully supported back than be suspended in harness straps. A young child's neck is undeveloped thus allowing the head to be largely unsupported and any additional collision loadings make the neck / spinal area very vulnerable to serious injury.
Q:   When should I turn my Baby's Car Seat around?

It's safest to travel rearward facing for all passengers. This is especially so for our fragile developing infants and young children. On that basis alone we should keep our youngest children travelling rearward facing as long as we can, based on each personal circumstances. Eg: How large a child can your restraint product cater for rear facing (There are several different types). There are often additional limiting factors such as vehicle design and other family passenger demands that restrict particular and / or preferred practices.

For many decades the minimum, legal requirement, to allow a child to travel forward facing was from 8Kgs. With earlier products manufactured to Pre 2010 Standard products this is now over-ruled by the updated Road Rule that requires 6 months of age minimum for forward facing. NB: The child's size is all important in using any safety equipment and keeping a child rear facing as long as possible is obviously best, but REMEMBER your child can only stay rear facing up to the maximum that your restraint is rated for.     Best and safest practices are always related to size (or weight if applicable to your restraint product) choosing and adjustment, not age. With the new Road Rule amendments, choosing by age is only a general guide. Your specific product will have its own minimum 'Stop' using criteria.

Q: What should I do if my child is taller or heavier than other children of the same age?
As well as the new road rules you should also abide by the instructions of the restraint you are using in respect to it's maximum use guidelines. If your child is heavier than the restraints guidelines allow, you are permitted as stated in the Road rules (Use a restraint suitable to the child's size) to move the child to the next restraint type available. You will be operating outside of the stated parameters if you do not consider the child's size. 

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8. Tether strap difficulties: 
Q: Do I need to remove the luggage cover if it interferes with the tether strap in the back of my hatch?
  Ideally, you want keep the cover in place for luggage retension. However your tether strap needs to be in a straight a line as possible. Cutting a small tether access hole in the cover may be an appropriate solution.
Beware that any deflection of the child restraint tether strap, when pulled on from collision forces does not 'load' the cover or other components that may break off and become a missile in the vehicle.
Q: How do I deal with the tether strap when it interferes with the luggage in the back of my hatch?
  Tether routing is the priority, always make sure that the luggage, including prams, is forward against the seat back and the tether is to take a straight a line as possible from anchor to the restraint or top of the vehicles' seat.
Q: Do child restraints have an expiry date?
In Victoria as an example, a child restraint is not considered 'approved' for road rule compliance if it becomes too old.  A specific date version of the Australian Standard is used for this criteria and this will change over time as the rule is periodically updated.
As of 2014 the 1995 Standard, or later version, is mentioned which means that a child restraint may be legal to use at nearly 18 years old. So, that is the ultimate expiry date.  (Check your own local road authority to confirm this aspect).
However, a common long standing guideline is to not use restraint products after they are 10 years old. 
Any child restraint 'expires' as soon as an issue is identified with its safe use, or even suspected safe use. This can and does occur for even recently produced restraints, as child restraint products are not always looked after with the consideration for what it is that they are designed to do. 
Some products have a warning printed into them when manufactured. Such as:  "Do not use this restraint after DD/MM/YYYY".   This may only suggest approximately 6 years use after purchase? Australian manufacturers generally honour the 'ten year' guideline stated below.
Historically, child safety stakeholders have suggested that child restraint products are best removed from service after ten (10) years of age.  Plastic degradation was a real concern when this first came into being 25 years plus ago. This aspect has been improved upon greatly, but any ageing factor can affect the safety of a product designed to take the type of forces these products need to withstand.
NB: As mentioned above, a child restraint may be unsafe to use at any age, so do not rely on any age factor alone.

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9. Child Restraint systems overview:

  a. Infant Restraints

Infant restraints are of the type that face the baby toward the rear of the vehicle, laying them on their back with a 'head up' aspect. There are two types currently available:

  1. Dedicated 'infant restraints':

These are a rearward facing only unit that incorporates a harness to secure the child. (They have been available for use up to 9Kg and 12Kg for many years but 'Post 2010' Australian Standard compliant product is lmited by length marker only)


Convertible restraints:

These are a type of restraint which has the ability to convert between infant and child restraint formats. (These have been available for the rearward facing use up to 9Kg or 12Kg and 18Kgs for the forward facing aspect for many years, but any 'Post 2010' Australian Standard compliant product is lmited by length marker only.)

Convertible products are a popular purchase choice, but can be more difficult to configure and install. They are often (but not always) more expensive. So careful thought about the amount of time you will actually need an infant restraint for is suggested. Hiring an infant restraint instead of buying initially is an excellent option, especially for the first few 'learning curve' months. Using such a restraint for a few months will teach you a lot about what it takes to travel with a child in your vehicle and can facilitate any buying decision. Be aware that the more expensive choices are not necessarily safer than the less expensive, unless you take the longer rearward facing rating aspect and additional head protection systems such as 'AHR' (Active Head Restraint) technology into account. It's also important to connect with the reality that no matter how much you spend on your child's safety equipment, if it is not fitted and used correctly on a daily basis, juniors' safety is still at risk.


b. Child Restraints

Child restraints are forward facing 'child seats' or 'car seats' which are secured to the vehicle and also come in two types. Both types incorporate a '6 point' harness system that secures the child.


Dedicated 'Single purpose child restraints' these have been come less available over the years as the convertible choices have expanded: (These have been available for toddler use up to 18Kgs for many years, but any 'Post 2010' Australian Standard compliant product is lmited by height marker only.)

Products in this category are and or have included the Toddler Rider, Cosi, Series 3, Maxi Cosi 'Complete Air' and Discovery plus.


Combination child restraints: (ie: A toddler car seat with integral (built in) harness which can be converted at a later stage to be used as a booster seat with which the older child can use the vehicles seat belt.  (NB: Post 2010 Aust Standard product is height marker only limited)

Eg's: Maxi Rider, Exeed, Swish air, Explorer. to name a few. (NB: Vehicle compatibility clarification is necessary to determine suitability of employing an additional harness system for booster stage use).

Combination types have been available for toddler use up to 18Kgs and older child 26Kgs for many years, but any 'Post 2010' Australian Standard compliant product is lmited by height marker only).  NB: This type of booster must be anchored at all times.

  c. 'Booster seats'

Booster seats are for forward facing applications only and are available in several types as well.
  1. Boosters with back and side support. (Too many available to list here) and are usually used for these reasons.

I. To increase 'side impact' safety. (Only Boosters with backs)

2. To provide better support / comfort for a sleeping child.

3. To isolate the child from the seat belt buckle.

4. To allow better positioning of the sash section of the seat belt across the upper body.

5. To position the child upwards to allow better viewing. (See * below)

  2. Boosters without any back or side support are usually used for these reasons.

1. To allow better positioning of the seat belt, both the sash and lap sections.

2. To position the child upwards (besides the reason above) to allow better viewing. (See * below)

3. To isolate the child from the seat belt buckle.

(*) Being able to 'see out' can sometimes contribute to juniors' contentment, and therefore less likely that they fidget and squirm about or tamper with the seat belt buckle. In this context 'seeing out' may be a safety factor.




Again, like many child restraint systems they are widely misused and for some applications may offer better protection if used with an additional Harness system. NB: Many modern vehicles are not additional Harness (ie: 'H Harness' and 'Protecta Harness') compatible.

Comment on status of Base only or Half Boosters (AKA Booster cushions)

'Half or Base only Booster seats' have been removed from the 2010 Australian Child restraint Standard. This does not mean they can not be used if you have one, BUT our advice has not changed. A 'Half or Base only Booster' should only be used as a last resort if a more appropriate 'Full booster' can not be used. Additionally, always placed into the centre position of the vehicle provided correct Lap sash seat belt use is complied with. (If a Lap only seat belt is provided an additional harness must be correctly used as well.)

NB: Because of the limitations these products have always suffered and the change with the Australian standards, some child care organisations have removed them as an option for their staff to use.

  d. 'H'Harness and Protecta Harness. (Additional Harness systems)

Unfortunately these are also often misused, especially when it comes to the fitting of a 'gated buckle' (which is used to create a lap seat belt from a lap/sash seat belt).

NB: Additional harnesses were primarily designed for use with a Lap only seat belt and must be used where the vehicle has a Lap only belt installed.

When integrating a harness with a Lap sash Seat belt it's important to follow the gated buckle instructions very closely. NB: The gated buckle must not be able to slide along the seat belt or it is fitted incorrectly and it must also be placed in a position that disallows contact with the child's body.  Remember adjust the Seat belt low and firm over the child's hips before the harness tether adjustment is completed. Remove the slack (Looseness) only with the upper tether adjuster.

Beware! Separate Harness systems are often not compatible with some vehicle Lap sash seat belts, either through the length of belt or specific seat belt locking mechanisms.

  e. Convertible Restraints

As discussed above in (a. 2) and (b. 2)

  f. Seat Belts

As discussed above in FAQ 5.

  Selection Chart

This application chart may help you in choosing an appropriate restraint.

Please note that more recent AS/NZS1754 standard updates have designated a 'Type F' and Type 'G'. The availability of these products at the time of this edit are very limited, there is at least one Type 'F' on the market. A major factor for all child restraints manufactured compliant with the 2010 Standard onward is that they are to use 'height markers' and not a weight limit to gauge suitability for the child.  NB: Previous weight limit guidelines still need to be respected on earlier standard products. Always follow the labels on your respective product.

Child restraint selection chart download: Click here

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Type A restraints

Rearward facing infant restraints with integral harness to secure baby.

Type A/B restraints

Convertible restraints with integral harness which accommodate newborns and young babies rearward facing and can be refitted in a forward aspect for larger babies / children

Type B & G restraints

Forward facing only restraints with integral harness for children.

Type B/E restraints

Forward facing combination restraints can accommodate younger children and then convert to be used as a booster using the vehicle's laps ash seat belt for larger children.  An 'Additional Harness' may be possible in some vehicles.  NB: An additional harness is required for lap only seat belt positions. (See Type 'C' )

NB: These products must be anchored at all times. They can not be used unanchored like some other booster product. (Check handbook instructions re 'H' Harness compatibility.)

Type E restraints

'Boosters', base only type and seat type, (i.e. with or without back) are enhancements to the restraint system of an 'H' Harness with lap seat belt or the vehicle's lap sash seat belt. These are best chosen after a child has grown out of the forward facing child restraint stage.  Boosters use is legal from 4 years old and suggested only as a minimum entry. (Check label on product or packaging for some earlier products)

They can provide: -

a. A better height for the 'sash' belt positioning on the child's shoulder.

b. Some side protection for side impact situations.

c. Side support for a sleeping or resting child.

d. A higher vantage point for the child and therefore, possibly, more likelihood of keeping some restless children in their seat belted position.

e. Isolation from the seat belt buckle.

Type C Restraint

Harness system commonly referred to as a 'H' Harness which uses the seat belt through the lower end loops and the adjustable tether for the upper end via the usual anchorage fitting.

Traditionally usable up to 26Kgs when used with a Booster seat and up to 32kgs without a booster seat. NB: There are a number of types of types available, so always check instructions thoroughly. 

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10. Twists in Seat Belts and Harnesses
Q: Why is it important to remove all twists from the seat belt or harness webbings?
The physical force on a passenger's body is enormous under collision loadings. Have you hurt your hand because of a plastic shopping bag cutting into you? Why did it cut into you? Because the surface area against your hand has narrowed or thin.  It would be less damaging to your hand if the surface area was wider across your hand, wouldn't it? The same principles apply to being restrained in safety restraints such as harness and seat belts, only that the forces will be so much higher and much more damaging. 



How can I keep the twists out of my restraints harness?


In many restraints it's not that difficult if you know what 'not to do'.

To keep twists from 'appearing' in your restraint. DON'T!

  • start placing the harness over junior from the shoulder or top end. Even though it's easy to see and we are all likely to start here, DON'T!
  • Also DON'T start at reaching for the buckle tongue and pulling on it from below, behind or underneath junior. We all want it of course, but DON'T pull on the buckle tongue.

Both the above actions create twists in most modern restraints. What then do you do?

Read the how to remove twists section below and use the same principles every day in using the harness and you will never have a twist again. (Unless someone else in your family does it!)


How do I remove twists?


Please be aware that these suggestions don't apply to many earlier model child and infant safety seats. These tips apply generally to restraint harnesses that adjust from the shoulder end and have the lower harness connection points (beside the hips) fixed into place, but may not work for all.

First read FAQ; 'How do I keep the twists out of my restaints harness?'.

A: Start by organising the harness (belt) webbing by 'running' the belt between your fingers from the anchored end beside the child's bottom on either side (ie; At the base of the seat. NB: Do one side at a time) running the belt up to the area of the connecting buckle. Holding the belt flat and untwisted as you would like to see it against your child's body: Is the buckle tongue pointing the correct way?

  • IF NOT it has more than likely been rotated on the belt. This means you have to feed a 'one half' twist back through the belt slot in the tongue. It doesn't matter which way you fold the belt to start this process, just make sure that you pass the full fold through and that it doesn't 'fold back' on you. If it does you end up in the same place you started. Go to B:
  • IF IT IS pointing the correct way, go to B: 

B: Once you have completed this step, connect the buckle tongue and continue up the chest section passing any twists through the shoulder slots. Turn the unit around and follow the twist to where the shoulder strap meets the disconnecting cross bar, if the twist has disappeared by this stage, all is well. If it hasn't disconnect the loop at the end of the shoulder strap and rotate the loop and refit it. Ensure you follow the instruction booklet in reconnecting these straps.

If at any stage through this process, you can't make it work, look up one of our professional providers. If the search function doesn't help use the 'Contact us' page for assistance.

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11. Road Rule requirements.
Q: What are the Road Rules in relation to child restraints?

Road Rules are often misinterpreted, which has only adds to the confusion, so be careful about how you read them.

Remember:  Complying with the road rules is a minimum aim when it comes to safe practices. "If you've been conducting your restraint activities buy using 'best practices' (See below) you will more than likely already be exceeding the road rule guidelines."

The main areas that the road rules focus on are:-    (Approved restraint must be used)

  • Infants must use a rearward facing infant restraint with an integral harness up until 6 month of age, minimum.
  • Toddlers must use a child restraint with an integral harness (built in) up to 4 years of age, minimum.
  • Older children must use a booster seat using a Lap sash seat belt, up to 7 Years of age minimum.  (Upper body restraint must be provided so a 'Lap only' seat belt can not be used unless an accessory harness can be used correctly as well.)
  • Front seat should not be used for a child under 7 Years of age.   NB: Exceptions occur. (See full road rule)

Best practices mean:

  • Leave infants rearward facing as long as the restraint you are using allows you to.
  • Leave toddlers in their forward facing child restraint (restraints with an in-built harness) up until they have grown to the restraint's limits.
  • Don't move children to boosters until they pass the '5 step test' (See FAQ #7+  on this. "How old does my child have to be to move from a 'car seat to a booster'?")
  • Resist putting a child to a front seat position until it is the last available seat.
  • Observe the vehicle manufacturers guidelines on front seat use in respect to children and air bags.

It also means:'

  • Checking all aspects of your restraint use and its installation to the vehicle every trip.

Website link for  Victorian Road Rules 

Website link for  Tasmanian Road Rules

Website link for  Queensland Road Rules 

Website link for  New South Wales Road Rules 

Website link for  South Australia Road Rules

Website link for  Western Australia Road Rules 

Website link for  Northern Territory Road Rules Part 16 Rule 266


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Q: What's going on with Isofix? 

What a debate has been raging about this European innovation over recent years!

'ISOFIX' relies on the compatibility of special vehicle equipment, providing two lower anchors (manufactured in at factory) and specially made child restraints incorporating a pair of latching systems to 'marry' together into the vehicle.  This attaches the lower part of the child restraint chassis directly to the vehicle chassis eliminating the need to use the seating positions seat belt.

Parents who have used an international restraint with either ISOFIX or the American LATCH* facility often can't understand why Australian restraints don't 'fit as well'.  Most of the professionals installing and dealing with child restraint use in Australia would agree that ISOFIX has a part to play and can make a contribution to the safe use of a child restraint product. This contribution however, only relates to seat belt misuse aspects. Child restraint misuse is not limited to seat belt issues alone. In fact, Seat belt misuse aspects are in the smaller percentage of misuse factors.  Common misuse factors also relate to:

  • Restraint suitability, choice.
  • Head protection factors, misaligned and or maladjusted.
  • Harness strap shoulder height and
  • Correct harness tension adjustments 
  • Using inappropriately twisted harness straps
  • Incorrect tether anchorage

These all rate highly in child restraint misuse surveys, so quoting ISOFIX as a 'fix all' is misleading.

The widely misunderstood aspect of how rigid or firmly a child restraint should be installed is one of the greatest contributors to parents being dissatisfied with a child restraint installation. Some believing that if their restraint is not 'rock solid' then their child is unsafe. This is a gross over simplification of the facts.  Children travel unsafely in 'rock solidly' fitted restraints all the time as restraint users often aren't aware of what other aspects they need to focus on and correct.

ACRI welcomes any ISOFIX compatible restraint product that provides ease of use and applaud any child restraint manufacturer who takes up the option of developing ISOFIX compatible restraints. The Australian Standard committee provided this option to manufacturers in the 2013 standard version.

However, to promote that you're providing a 'safer performing' child restraint for your child when it is mechanically mounted to the vehicles chassis, over the traditional seat belt mounted type is arguable. Many safety strategies are all about controlling the rate of de-acceleration during a collision, do you actually want to be rigidly attached to the steel work of your vehicles' chassis? (Consider what 'crumple zones', built into our 5 Star NCAP rated vehicles contribute and why.)

As with all assessments of child transit safety, we shouldn't be 'satisfied' by just performing a static or stationary test on a device that's designed to perform dynamically, that's to say 'in a collision'. Pushing a restraint 'around' while the vehicle is stationary to 'test' its safe fitment is not an accurate gauge. ("Looks solid, must be safe" and "Looks comfortable, must be safe" are just two of the myths many judge their child restraint safety by.)

ISOFIX is not without limitations and or challenges. Utilising all rear seat positions for multiple passengers will be challenging in most vehicle applications using these products. Another example is that the Lower ISOFIX attachments may be present in an imported vehicle. But, a corresponding 'Australian approved' upper anchorage location to make it a viable seat position option may not be available.

Footnote: Our parenting community is crouching under an outcrop of excessive and inappropriate information about child restraint selection and use. Corporations that promote innovations like ISOFIX as a reason to buy their vehicles and raise their own media profile, where many other much more important messages could assist every road going child, is profoundly self serving and grossly misleading.

*Like attachment in the car, but with the restraint using a 'Flexible' latching strap/belt interface on the restraint. 


Why is it so difficult to get a straight answer?

1. There are very few questions concerning child restraints that are simple to answer because....... 
  • There's an infinite variety of family requirements, children sizes and vehicle specifics make it impossible to standardise answers and still remain specific enough to be of any help:
  • Most written material over the decades has been sourced from laboratory test reports, design requirements and legislative documentation.
  • Such material has been re-written and re-published many times throughout this time with out any consultation or input from people within the child restraint industry who actually experience more than just these aspects. Installation personnel deal with the real front line everyday, not the theory.
  • All official testing activities are carried out by personnel experienced with child restraint products, either historically and or from a skilled engineering perspective. In other words:
    • The results to some degree are dependent on the testing facility's:
      1. understanding of how important each subtlety of child restraint configuration and use can be in reducing injury.
      2. high level of engineering and mechanical aptitude.
      3. focus on a one use / one time result per installation attention. NB: The restraint is set up, installed and then tested.
      4. use of a standard seat, seat belt, anchor testing rig.
  • Using the average community environment as a mirror to the four (4) points above.
      • Many parents and other child restraint users do not have these understandings: Eg: Loose harness use, Too low a shoulder strap settings, Head restraint setting incorrect and not monitoring the seat belt attachment every trip are all regular complacencies.
      • Many parents and carers are not engineering and mechanically aware.
      • These products are to be used correctly every trip / every day, not just once after being set up and installed by an engineer. The safety of these products is frequently compromised by other passengers, young an old. Your car space is the true testing ground of child restraint safety. 
      • The cross section of vehicles' today is enormous and incompatibility issues abound.
        • Eg: 1. A special seat belt exists, that often disallows the ease and safe daily use of any additional harness system. This seat belt type has been used in Australia by one major vehicle manufacturer since 1996. So this issue is not new.  Additionally, there's no reference for isolating that this seat belt type is installed to any particular vehicle make or model.
        • Eg: 2. The resultant fitment of only one restraint product type, installed into the total range of vehicles available in Australia, combined with the variable restraint aspects and vehicle seating positions is incalculable. There are limitless variations to the end result and therefore also to the clients satisfaction / expectation level.
2. Discussions, advice and more particularly, direct answers are skewed to the safe side and we don't mean just 'Safety' in the car here. Practitioners are careful not to get embroiled in litigation, because an individual may misinterpret a comment.
How can I obtain training on child restraints?

ACRI can provide face to face training sessions for those seeking to provide professional management of child restraint usage within their workplace and /or for retail installation services. However, geographical limitations and the small number of learners allowable per session are both economically and logistically limiting. Depending on where you require the service, enrolling into a face to face session may mean a lengthy scheduling delay. This type of training delivery requires substantial time and financial commitments placing more demand on your budgets. 

It's for these reasons that ACRI has developed the most advanced online child restraint training programs in Australia. With more trans-Australian experience across all fields of front line child restraint use than any other organisation in Australia, we're able to provide the best in training and ongoing support. This can be provided through our member support system.

So, if you want to participate in training immediately, join up on-line today or call us on 1300 472672. We can then arrange access to a program for one or more learners. Read the next question for a bit more insight into what constitutes our training process.

How does someone learn about installing and using child restraints correctly? 

Like many things we learn to do in life, we firstly need to understand why a certain practice is desirable and what makes it correct or incorrect. Once we know the principals, purposeful practice of what we've come to learn is paramount. With child restraints this is a matter of understanding what is safe and what is unsafe and then the 'correct and incorrect' should fall into place.  Child restraint use is a learn in the field task regardless of the training methods used. The permutations and variety of outcomes are endless, so an awareness of the many challenges that vehicles and passenger combinations bring is also part of an effective training program.

One of the common misunderstandings is that these products are physically dealt with in the same way as each other and that one can learn all about every possible product in a matter of a few hours of 'hands on' exposure. This is completely untrue. Sure, in an ideal world it would be desirable to be able to assess every learner over a wide range of restraint products and vehicle interface aspects, but that is geographically, logistically and economically impossible. Secondly, between the time a learner has 'worked with' a restraint product in training and then actually needs to deal with one 'in the field', they'll more than likely be dealing with one they have never been exposed to or have more than likely forgotten what they'd done with the product in the training session anyway. As you will hear a lot throughout ACRI programs and publications, 'Every child's safe transit scenario is unique and should be treated as such, every time'. There are very few generic solutions, so why teach them? 

It's also important to note that the 'hands on' practical aspects can not be taught to everyone. Not everybody has the mental or physical dexterity to actually 'carry out' some mechanical or physical actions. eg: Some can hit a tennis ball and many can't. One could argue that we could all be taught. This may be true on one level, but it will still come down to how much dedication and focused practice the learner is prepared to put into the task?

We're often asked how someone can learn about child restraint installation when using our 'On-line' training programs. It's a fair question, so let us explain. The benefits of on-line training are numerous. The learner can learn at their own pace, resourcing solutions to the questions and assessments without pressure to learn at another learners speed or trying to 'keep up' with the group. It can be accessed and / or reviewed at any time, as often or as little as required during the course. Additionally, we train service providers of the need for them to brief their clients on how to self assess the correct day to day use of their own restraint. As such, learners are taught how to assess themselves by recognising desirable and undesirable outcomes.

Eg: Are you satisfied that the resultant installation is safe? If you're not, how is your client going to be satisfied?

Does an 'on-line' learner need to be relied on to be diligent and responsible in the application of the practical tasks and assessments? Yes, of course they are, as they are with their daily practices and in the workplace as well. If there's a doubt about the integrity of a learner in this respect then they aren't the right person for the job. If they do not want to do this work properly then no training system can ensure that they do as requested. This applies no matter what method of assessments are used.

Read the previous question if you wish to know more about how you can obtain training from ACRI.

What is the maximum rearward facing restraint use factor?

The road rule, in general terms asks that all children must travel in an approved child restraint suitable for the child’s size. Unfortunately, the breakdown of the road rules for the different ages of children is what everyone is reading and basing their beliefs on. The child restraint road rules are not about limiting the upper use of any restraint type at all, they’re about enforcing a minimum use. Rear facing, like other stages does not have an upper limit other than the restraints stated limit.

We’ve had restraint product in Australian that could handle children rear facing up to two years old or more for well over 15 years. In another respect, seven years old is allowed by the road rule as a minimum to move to using a seat belt only. ie; No restraint product used at all. In other words the rules allow children to travel at a minimum safety starting point. If anyone doubts this, you only need to look at the front seat rules for child passengers. Seven years old, or under some circumstances from four years old, are both a long way short of what vehicle manufactures and road safety specialists would prefer and often recommend for front seat use.

A common road rule relates to the speed we should travel. With speed, there are maximum speeds allowable for safe road use and it appears to me that this interpretation has incorrectly and inadvertently been applied by many to the child restraint road rules. Child restraint road rules are about the minimum safety not best practice. The design and stated use limitations of any particular restraint product are what limits the maximum use, not the road rules.

An additional complication is that the Australian Standards (1754) of recent versions has ‘required’ manufacturers to ‘promote / market’ their product to comply within the road rule guideline. So they have ‘Birth to 6mths’, ‘6mths to 4 years’ and ‘4 Years to 7 Years’ printed on their boxes reiterating the false belief, that the use of these products is limited to the upper age. Well, no it’s not, but it’s no wonder people get confused is it.                              

Why, when you have a restraint capable of offering superior protection for a child up to a certain ‘size’, as they all state, would you remove that child from it because of a perceived age limit? It’s not part of the equation and never has been. Those professionally involved with child restraint safety know that these safe travel principles haven’t changed in 30 years. “Stay rear facing as long as possible. Use each restraint type up to their maximum use limitations. Always keep children in the rear seats and use the restraint in accordance with the instructions”.

Dickie Seats (Additional seating) Including the use of child restraints

Firstly, it's important to realise that the term 'Dickie seat' is often misused.  Please ensure you read this complete article to know the difference in respect to seat category and intention of use.

The short answer;

Additional (Dickie) seats are able to be used by children aged 4 years and over provided that the seat is suitable for the child's height - weight and a lap-sash seatbelt or seatbelt with a child safety harness for upper body restraint is used.

NB: Child restraints or booster seats cannot be used on additional seating; therefore children travelling in such seating positions are not offered any side impact protection as they would be a normal child restraint or booster product.

NB: There are many examples of information in contravention of this. Sometimes, such information will come from very credible sources. If you’re confronted with this and or a client wants to pursue discussion over it, the additional information below may assist with understanding the ACRI perspective more thoroughly.

A more complete answer:  Additional information on why child restraints should not to be used with Dickie seats?

NB: This question usually comes up in connection with FDC carers / educators trying to accommodate children in their vehicles.

ACRI promotes that child restraints and booster seats should not be used on additional seating designed for children.  Considerable confusion has surrounded this issue for many years, so we’ll try and provide some guidelines that can clarify this and offer support when they’re opinion is disputed.

A few factors to consider:

• Child restraints and boosters seats are primarily designed to be used on Category 1 seating. (See below)

• Some people call the very rear seating (usually third row) Dickie seats. These are most commonly, (but not always) Category 1 seating. So, in that case it would be alright to install a child restraint, providing an approved upper tether anchorage is available of course.

• Many additional seating units (After market accessory/modification) are supplied with child restraint upper tether anchorage provision that can understandably lead users to conclude that they can use child restraints on them. (Note: These upper tether anchorage are intended for additional harness use.)

• Some manufacturers of additional seating have stated over the years that ‘smaller’ child restraints can be used on their seats. This statement can be confusing.    (See size and weight aspects for Category 2 & 3 below. Is this what they're referring to?)

• Additional seating are designed for children (Categories 2 & 3) and have size limits, so using a child restraint in addition to the ‘Dickie seat’ may put the child in excess of this limit. (See description of categories below)

• Using a child restraint on an inaccessible and or impossible to monitor seating position in the vehicle poses an everyday unsafe use situation and should be avoided regardless of approval status.

Why is it all so confusing?
1.  There are a lot of 'safety suggestions' surrounding child restraints.

Over the 30 years we have had a child restraint regimen in Australia there have been comments and statements made and many of them have stuck in the collective minds of our communities.

Some have served us well and our community has benefited from them, but

  • Some are outdated and have been superseded, but still they persist.
  • Some were and are still misunderstood.
  • Many do not apply in today's vehicles.

Regardless of how factual and / or appropriate a comment may have been they continue. Rebirthed with every generation, gaining longevity and validity from helpful Mums, Dads, Grandparents, other relatives and knowledgeable friends, who remember what they did when their first child was born.  Do they remember it correctly? Was it actually the right thing to do then and is it now?

2. Other sources of poor messages.

From time to time, parenting communities also gain information from Child Restraint service providers. Information which may be a reflection of that provider's individual preference. From an ultimate safety point of view this information may be good, but can be unrealistic from the parent's day to day involvement and abilities aspect. Here are a few examples only:

  • Suggesting expensive products.
  • Suggesting the use of complicated procedures (The provider may understand its use, but can the parent use it safely?)
  • Over emphasising
     'rigidly fitted child restraints'.

Sometimes dispersions are cast on any method or practices that are at a different level than they themselves would provide. This disparity not only happens between parent and provider, but also between provider and provider.

It's no wonder parents can be confused.

The ACRI hopes our FAQ's resources assist in dissolving any concern and confusion you may have.


 3.  The Good News!

Protecting our small passengers in our cars is quite simple if you just consider what the risk's are from a vehicle collision and manage the risk's as best you can:

This includes your attitude to driving safely. Such as:

  • Dont rush, give yourself plenty of time.
  • Leave plenty of space in front of you.
  • Dont allow yourself to be distracted: Driving comes first, phones and crying children come second.
  • If there is an issue in the car, stop, park and deal with it exclusively.

Consider injury risks such as:

  • Head, neck, spine, bruising and lacerations.

use protection methods, such as:

  • Correct orientation (Rearward or Forward travel)
  • Head protection: Isolated seating positions and child restraint products with side head protection.
  • Correct seat belt or harness use: No twists, correctly placed across the passengers skeletal structure (upper and lower body) and no looseness.


Do your research and then make your decision. If you still have a doubt or are concerned about anything, ask someone who has the best chance of guiding you with the most up to date information. Check our list of professional providers or email your location and we will refer you to someone who can offer real help .





Let’s all travel safely.

If you're looking for an authorised or accredited child restraint fitting service provider, use our search function through the green panel link on our homepage. Or click here: Find a Professional Service provider 


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FAQ's (Training)

Why is ACRI training so effective?

Many think child car safety seats are easy, a perception that is usually derived from their own personal use experience.

To work effectively in this field as a practitioner one has to expand their vision much further than personal perspectives.

The consultancy and educational components of providing services to parents is ultimately more important than the physical (or 'Do for') service a technician provides.

To operate responsibly with clients over their child’s safety, there’s a great deal to learn that a private individual never needs to consider. It's the holistic safety environment of a vehicle that a good practitioner considers.

The actual fitting of a Child Car Safety Seat is simple for many people, but not everyone can do it.

Every safety seat user needs these minimum skills and knowledge.

  • Basic safe travel knowledge
  • Basic mechanical relationship skills.
  • A reasonable level of physical dexterity and
  • Mid level comprehension abilities to interpret all instruction manuals and guideline documents involved.

These may sound simple, but here's an additional consideration:
If Safety Seats are simple then...

  • Why are over 80% of child restraints used incorrectly?
  • Why do children get injured or worse because of safety seat misuse?
  • Why do Child Safety Seat users 'cut corners' when using their safety equipment?
Relying on someone else to 'fit it' can leave the actual user with a false sense of security. Continued safe environments rely on daily monitoring through effective education.

Why workplace specific training?

The majority of workplace training is aimed at these four (4) areas.

  • To ensure safe environments and reduce liabilities to your organisation
  • To improve the safety of customer service outcomes
  • To improve the quality of customer relationships
  • To improve profitability

Child Car Safety Seats require the same attention and for the same reasons.

Personal use and practices have no bearing on dealing with the safe travel aspects of other people’s children. ACRI training acknowledges the many differences.

ACRI training programs cover,

  • Program ‘A’ for: Consultancy, configuration and installation levels required by ‘Child Passenger Safety Technicians’. (Commonly called Type 1 Fitters)
    • Staff practices and child restraint management. Train the trainer.
  • Program ‘B’ for: Child care and Family / Social Services front line staff transit requirements
  • Program ‘E’ for: Automotive service management of child restraints including for…

o   R & R - Service / Repair

o   Loan car swap overs

o   Out of Trade in and into New purchase situations.

  • Program ‘F’ for: Car Rental or hire business management requirements…

Your core workplace activities are often unique and no one can manage what they unaware of.  Workplace specific ACRI training programs enhance your Child Safety Seat management.

Why is ACRI training different?

ACRI training programs are designed, updated and monitored regularly by technicians who have extensive front-line service provision experience and highlight the factors below.

  • Show why a learner’s personal experience has little to do with workplace practices.
  • Reiterate that personal beliefs and practices are often inappropriate in a workplace and may even be a liability.
  • Shows that a child’s transport safety can be improved no matter what transit scenario is presented.
  • Highlights dynamic and client relations risks and methods of how to manage them.
  • Safe travel outcomes are infinite; we teach the reality that each child transit scenario is unique and needs to be treated as such, every time.
  • Places the 'fitting' aspect into context. Simple and achievable steps are outlined.
  • Provides insight into the ‘How it was fitted and by whom’ paradigm. The traditional ‘Australian model’ commonly practised, increases provider liabilities and dis-empowers a parent with their child’s safety.

How can ACRI deliver courses online?

It is commonly believed or preferred by many at least, that “I have to be shown how to ‘do it”. ACRI understands and promotes that completely as exercising practical work is 100% necessary to learn this activity effectively.

However, no one can learn all about the functions of the total product range environment in any classroom over a week, let alone a few days.

When the breadth of restraint products, vehicle variations and activities are realised, it is clear that this can only truly be learnt through experience in the field. The narrow range of scenarios that can be replicated in a classroom can disadvantage learners by implying unrealistically limited outcomes and expectations.

Teaching what the risks are and how they need to be managed with whatever environment (Child Car Safety Seat, family and vehicle) that a learner is presented with is an efficient and realistic approach to teaching this topic.

Online delivery reinforces that a service provider is alone responsible for their actions and that each child’s travel safety environment is the sum of many aspects, all variables that can not easily be replicated in any classroom.

ACRI online resources share specialised insights, via Fact sheets, Guidelines and dedicated training Videos. 

How can ACRI assess online learners?

Good question, but we like to ask how does any other training system reliably assess face to face learners, without misleading them? ACRI has extensive experience at all types of training delivery and we have witnessed many times that a learner remembers one method to 'Adjust shoulder straps' (for example) when there are at least twelve possible alternatives.

Since developing our suite of online training programs in the early 2010's, we've discovered that online learners do better than face to face. There are many reasons why, but the main one relates to the outcome of a face to face assessment. It is impossible for any leaner to witness even a fraction of the physical activities required across the range of safety seat and vehicle products over an hour, day or even week or two.  The risk in showing and assessing a number of scenarios to learners is that they think they have learnt the multitude from a few exposures. ACRI teaches that the outcomes required are important and they will be infinitely variable. They must be dealt with independently from their own instructions as they arise.

Although we would agree that a physical assessment would be the ultimate, we have yet to see this method
provide an ultimate outcome when delivered within the allocated time frame.  

Additional information:

Child transit scenarios are limitless, so every vehicle door or Child Restraint box opened may be different, possibly vastly different to the last one you attended: Each scenario must be dealt with as it arises and the circumstances demand.

Example of time required for doing practical activities for a training session:

Of any Child Safety Seat product, there are at least four (4) physical ‘hands on’ actions to learn. (Many have more than eight - 8).

Let’s keep it simple at 4. If each action takes 5 minutes (which is conservative) to demonstrate, observe the learner, follow up, review and then possibly correct or retrial the individual. That equals at a minimum, 20 minutes.

If you multiply this by each restraint product variety that you’re likely to find during an average community service checking session, (as an example) there could be 5 different types (again a conservative number). The spent time has now grown to 100 minutes (Yes there are likely to be some cross-over, ie: similar actions, but mind you, any challenging products -Read ‘difficult to use’ and there’s many - will negate any time savings achieved). Multiply this by the number of learners, say six and we’re at 600 minutes (10 hours). At this stage we haven’t even discussed ‘best practices’, ‘principles’ , ‘roads rules’ or anything else that they need to be aware of.  We realise that many learners will pick this up readily, but there are some people  who will never be able to do the physical aspects, no matter how much time is given to it.

Professional service providers who have been doing this work for decades and over hundred of exposures per week have never seen every possible vehicle, let alone all safety seats or family or passenger limitations.

What does ACRI Child Car Safety Seat training provide?

  • Shows why a learner’s personal experience has little to do with workplace practices.
  • Personal beliefs and practices are often inappropriate in a workplace and may even be a liability.
  • Shows that any child’s transport safety can be improved no matter what transit scenario is presented.
  • Highlights dynamic risks and methods of how to manage them.
  • Safe travel outcomes are infinite; ACRI training recognises the reality that each child transit scenario is unique and needs to be treated as such.
  • Places the 'fitting' aspect into context. Simple and achievable steps are outlined.
  • Provides insight into the ‘How it was fitted and by whom’ paradigm. The traditional ‘Australian model’ commonly practiced, increases provider liabilities and disempowers a parent with their child’s safety.


Workplace specific training?

The majority of workplace training for any topic is aimed at these four (4) areas.

  • To ensure safe environments and reduce liabilities to the organisation
  • To improve the safety of customer service outcomes
  • To improve the quality of customer relationships
  • To improve profitability

Child restraints require the same attention and for the same reasons.

Personal use and practices have no bearing on dealing with the safe travel aspects of other people’s children. ACRI training acknowledges the many differences.

ACRI training programs cover,

  • Program ‘A’ for: Consultancy, configuration and installation levels required by ‘Child Passenger Safety Technicians’. (Commonly called Type 1 Fitters)
    • Staff practices and child restraint management. Train the trainer.
  • Program ‘B’ for: Child care and Family / Social Services front line staff transit requirements

  • Program ‘E’ for: Automotive service management of child restraints including for…

o   R & R - Service / Repair

o   Loan car swap overs

o   Out of Trade in and into New purchase situations.

  • Program ‘F’ for: Car Rental or hire business management requirements…
Your core workplace activities are often unique, only you know in what ways. No one can manage what they unaware of.  Workplace specific ACRI training programs enhance your Child Safety Seat management.



Who and Why ACRI?

Because ‘child transit safety awareness’ is all that we do.
Here’s a little bit about us. We are:
  • The largest trainer of professional child restraint providers in Australia.
  • The only training provider with programs specific to workplace exposures.
  • The only support network that provides a full catalogue of service support tools, such as stationary choices and service facilitation devices.
  • A training provider that can deliver professional level courses anywhere, anytime and economically.
  • An affiliate organisation that can enhance service provider knowledge and quality industry to client relationships.
ACRI takes pride in providing the highest quality training and network support possible. To us, it's not only about the training content. We also help providers gain a total understanding of their service environment and what is constantly required to keep reputations, theirs and ours protected.

What are some ACRI member benefits?

  • On demand technical support with restraint and vehicle issues as they arise.
  • Affiliation; Associate Professional or Accredited listing on the ACRI website.
  • Access to affordable insurance cover
  • A supportive network.
  • Public search and marketing opportunities.
  • Industry networking
  • Regular Newsletters and Bulletins.
  • Support materials members can access through our website.


FAQ’s (Business)

Why have an ACRI membership?

The benefits of affiliations are well known to business environments.

Networking - Resource sharing - Credibility boosting - Industry specific updates

In the child passenger safety arena post training technical support and Customer Liaison are often required and affiliation facilitates resourcing and distributing solutions and satisfying workplace issues.

Why workplace specific training?

The majority of any workplace training is aimed at these four (4) areas.

  • To ensure safe environments and reduce liabilities to the organisation
  • To improve the safety of customer service outcomes
  • To improve the quality of customer relationships
  • To improve profitability

Child Car Safety Seats require the same attention and for the same reasons.

Personal use and practices have little bearing on dealing with the safe travel aspects of other people’s children. There is a great deal to know about the differences.

How can I comply with Federal Government requirements?

Despite common belief to the contrary, there is no national system or control of retail service providers involved in the child car safety seat industry. Some State government authorities have set up referral networks, but most haven’t and regardless each jurisdiction is managed differently.

All service providers need to operate in accordance with the Australian Standards Instructional information, the Vehicle owners handbook, the Road Rules as minimum and Best Practices guidelines as best.   They must also be insured when running a business. Clients also need to be assured of a service providers commitment to quality service practices.

ACRI affiliation is optional, but is the best and most economical way to ensure that you are operating with the most up to date information and support.

How do I qualify to work with child car safety seats?

Prospective service providers need to be mindful that personal child transit experience has little to do with providing services for others. Strange as it may sound, a person is most qualified when they are fully aware that they will never know everything to do with this sector and mindful that they need to treat every child transit safety scenario individually, every time. They are expected to research and hone their skills and knowledge everyday. Of course, this is supported by a comprehensive training program which teaches how to recognise the real risks and what it takes to manage them.

ACRI training programs are designed and updated regularly by technicians who have extensive front-line service provision and customer relationship experience.

What risks can child restraints bring to my organisation?

All organisations have a duty of care to their staff and client welfare.

Involvements with child transit can bring:

  • Challenges in providing safe workplaces.
  • Potential unsafe practices and possible litigation.
  • Challenging public relation issues for staff and business.

Workplace practices have to withstand the scrutiny of staff and client perceptions and also periphery observers.  Best practices are the ultimate aim and since they represent a vast difference to the legal requirements often requires discretion in communication.

For Child Passenger Safety Technicians (Often referred to as 'fitters')

Misinformation is everywhere. A parent may have a dissatisfaction based on a perception created from such information.   Alternatively they may have information that a service provider should know, but doesn’t.

For Automotive Service - Repair workshops, Detailers, Window tinters etc:

Client satisfaction and confidence of any vehicle service provided will be influenced heavily by their child restraint perspectives, many of which have been well established before they come to your business.  

For Government departments, Social and Family services:

Duty of care issues are far easier to manage when the focus is appropriately placed. One example: Child restraint products are not all equal when it comes to ease of use, many of them being far too difficult to use in such workplace environments. Why burden staff with restraint products that are overly difficult to use?

For Childcare services and organisations:

Duty of care issues are far easier to manage when the focus is appropriately placed. One example: Child restraint safety challenges are a daily occurrence and changes are often required on every trip. Why lead staff to believe that a once a year check is good management of child transit safety?


FAQ’s (Membership)

What is ACRI?

The Australian Child restraint Resource Initiative is a member organisation started by technicians who had been working in the field of passenger safety for decades. It was developed to design and deliver effective child passenger safety training for workplaces of all types and provide an ongoing support resource second to none. As no two child transit scenarios are ever the same, our ongoing support is paramount in providing future proof quality services.

Here’s a little bit about us, we are:

  • The largest trainer of professional child restraint providers in Australia.
  • The only training provider with programs specific to workplace exposures.
  • The only support network that provides a full catalogue of service support tools, such as stationary choices and service facilitation devices.
  • A training provider that can deliver professional level courses anywhere, anytime and economically.
  • An affiliate organisation that can enhance service provider knowledge and quality industry to client relationships.

ACRI takes pride in providing the highest quality training and network support possible. To us, it is not only about the training content. We also help providers get a total understanding of their service environment and what is constantly required to keep reputations, theirs and ours protected.

Why have an ACRI membership?

The benefits of affiliations are well known to business environments.

Networking - Resource sharing - Credibility boosting - Industry specific updates

In the child passenger safety arena, post training technical support is often required and affiliation facilitates resourcing and distributing solutions and satisfying workplace practices.

What is the cost of ACRI membership?

On average annual membership costs as little as an overnight stay in a city hotel

As an ACRI member can I be listed on a State government list?

ACRI is the only inclusive organisation Australia wide specialising in child restraint workplace practices. This includes training programs and a full support materials catalogue and insurance considerations.

Sorry, ACRI can not help with a State government affiliation. We suggest you contact your State Road Authority, as each State manages this differently.


What are the benefits of ACRI affiliation?

Every ACRI member benefits from our national network feedback. Every community and workplace sector and experience is represented, so each member has that experience to draw from.

  • On demand technical support with restraint and vehicle issues as they arise.
  • Affiliation; Associate Professional or Accredited listing on the ACRI website.
  • Access to affordable insurance cover
  • A supportive network.
  • Public search and marketing opportunities.
  • Industry networking
  • Regular Newsletters and Bulletins.
  • Support materials members can access through our website.


ACRI Member resources - include:

  • Economical Training access
  • Insurance opportunities
  • Guideline documents
  • Fact sheets
  • Promotional materials
  • Multi industry training programs
  • Newsletter and Bulletin 'Back - issue' Library
  • Stationery purchase catalogue
  • Video Library
  • Train the Trainer resources
    • Program documentations
    • Videos
    • Learning tools
    • Assessment tools