Safe Start Australia was created to provide essential injury prevention information to parents and carers of infants and young children to help prevent life changing unintentional injuries occurring.
When I turned 30, I landed my dream job in Occupational Health and Safety, I was FIFO (I would fly in and fly out for work), I wore steel caped boots, a hard hat and a high vis shirt.
I started in admin and commenced my studies over the next 5 years to become a Safety Manager.
It was my job to make sure our employees and contractors were safe at work and went home to their loved ones. I thought it was the best job in the world!
Every day I would work with the team to make sure we were adhering to the current OH&S legislation and I would regularly facilitate risk assessments (basically identify hazards then remove the hazards or put measures in place to make the environment as safe as possible). Managing risk in various high-risk environments was part of everyday life.
When I went on maternity leave in 2015, I started to notice just how similar being a parent was to my previous role as a safety manager. Every day I was making decisions to keep our precious new baby safe i.e. Is this the safest car seat, is our home safe for a baby, are we creating the safest possible sleeping environment and is this product safe etc!
In 2017 I came across a report, the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia, it outlined that hospitalisation rates have not decreased in a 10-year period. And that injury is the leading cause of death in Australian children and each year results in more than twice the number of hospital admissions due to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease combined (1).
I was shocked and thought parents need more support in this area! Because I had a strong background in risk management, I knew I could contribute to providing important injury prevention information and in turn, help support parents to make a difference to these shocking statics!
I began researching childhood injury prevention, booking into courses and conducting my own risk assessments in our everyday environments. I spent 3 years researching everything I could about this specialised area including recalled products, Australian standards, how young children’s brains work, why some of us are more risk averse than others, the main hazards in our home environments, what the most common causes are for hospital admissions, what SIDS is and how to reduce the risk of a fatal sleeping accident and everything about child passenger safety.
Then on the 1st of January 2020 I launched my first Company Safe Start Australia Pty Ltd.
I was scared, I was nervous, but I was so excited to bring awareness to childhood injury prevention and keep learning how to keep children safe through supporting new and expectant parents and secondary carers.
Parenting can be challenging and is a wonderful journey of ups and downs!
I have personally found parenting the most challenging and most rewarding experience of my life all in one!
All our experiences are so unique.
Throughout my research I have come to learn that following the devastating loss of a child or a serious injury that has led to a lifelong disability a parent’s guilt can be unimaginable and the heartbreak unbearable, especially when the circumstances were preventable. Our program was developed to prevent such tragedies.
I believe as parents and carers we do the best, we can with the information we have. Being equipped with the right resources and information can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a serious injury or sad loss of a child.
I truly believe that children are the most precious and vulnerable people in our lives and Safe Start Australia’s mission is that every parent and carer of an infant or young child receives evidence-based injury prevention information. When this information is applied our vision is that no child dies or sustains a lifelong disability from preventable circumstances.
Reference: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian hospital statistics 2010-11. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare;2012. Cat no HSE 117.
Written by Nicolle Sharkey Founder of Safe Start Australia.
- From Research
- From Experience
- From the Heart