Children from disadvantaged families in Sydney’s west are safer on our roads thanks to the care and ingenuity of a Traffic and Highway Patrol Command officer.
Sergeant Greg Donaldson, who is stationed in Mt Druitt, has spearheaded an initiative to ensure disadvantaged families in the area have the correct child restraint seats for their young passengers.
Sgt Donaldson said the idea came to him after he continued to encounter the same drivers with non-compliant and poorly fitted child seats, children not fastened into them correctly and, in many cases, no child seat at all.
“I was finding that we were issuing tickets to the same people for this exact same traffic offence and I believed that more needed to be done to address the issue,” Sgt Donaldson said.
“It was not a case of these drivers deliberately putting their children at risk – they did not have the funds to purchase the most up-to-date child restraint seats and were instead buying all they could afford; second-hand seats that were not up to safety regulations or installed correctly.
“Now, with a fine on top of that, it was making it harder for them to afford a safe seat for their children. I wanted to fix that.”
He resolved to address the issue by liaising with relevant stakeholders to source free car seats for those in need.
“I began to work with local health clinics to help identify parents, particularly mums, who could benefit from having these car seats and training before the baby arrived,” Sgt Donaldson said.
“We would rather the child is properly secured from the moment they’re born rather than encounter them not properly restrained during a traffic stop.”
Sgt Donaldson also arranged for installation as well as education sessions to teach drivers on how to properly secure their children in the vehicle.
The program is now being trialled in the Dubbo region with a view to roll it out across the state.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner Karen Webb, praised the great work by Sgt Donaldson.
“We believe this is something that can benefit a great number of people in the community across the state,” Assistant Commissioner Webb said.
“Sgt Donaldson has really made a difference in the Mt Druitt community and reduced the amount of infringement notices for this offence.
“Our officers aren’t just here to issue tickets and arrest traffic offenders – we want to educate the community on road safety and have this early intervention to reduce the risk of injury or fatalities for road users.
“This initiative is also a great conversation starter between the community and police; whether it be about other traffic matters or other incidents in the area,” Assistant Commissioner Webb said.
Janaya Hickey became involved in the program at Mt Druitt shortly before the birth of her first child, daughter Lamiyah Anderson.
“As a first-time mother, it makes me feel really good knowing that my daughter is safe in the car,” Ms Hickey said.