High costs means no job

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - REXINE HAWES

For 11 years Gaynor Buchanan has been the Child Re­straint Safety Tech­ni­cian in Mata­mata.

But on Septem­ber 20, the Porse Ed­u­ca­tor’s li­cense ex­pires and she will no longer be able to fill this role.

Peo­ple from Mata­mata will have to travel to a tech­ni­cian in Tau­ranga or Ro­torua to have their seats fit­ted.

Cour­ses to be­come a reg­is­tered tech­ni­cian are or­gan­ised by the New Zealand Trans­port Agency.

It is un­sub­sidised. One is com­ing up at the Taupo Par­ent Cen­tre in Oc­to­ber, which Buchanan wants to en­roll in but at a stag­ger­ing cost of $420, it is well out of her bud­get.

To keep the service in Mata­mata, she is hope­ful that some­one in the com­mu­nity may be able to help fi­nance the course.

Ac­cord­ing to New Zealand Child Re­straints, one in five of all peo­ple who use child safety re­straints, use them in­cor­rectly, mean­ing the role of a tech- nician is hugely valu­able in New Zealand.

Chil­dren must be rear fac­ing un­til they are age one, but it is safest to keep them rear fac­ing un­til age two.

The mid­dle of the rear seat is the safest place, but be­hind the pas­sen­ger seat is also ac­cept­able as the seat would take the im­pact in a crash.

All chil­dren un­der five must be in a har­nessed re­straint, not in a booster with the di­ag­o­nal and lap belt.

All chil­dren must re­main in a booster un­til they reach 1.48cm tall and not travel in the front seat un­der seven-years-old, un­less no other seats are avail­able.

Buchanan says she is pas­sion­ate about her role and ad­mits she can be very di­rect when she sees peo­ple putting their chil­dren at-risk of dan­ger, by in­cor­rectly us­ing child safety re­straints.

‘‘What re­ally gets my back up, is when I see a four-month-old baby, for­ward fac­ing.

‘‘The mother says it’s none of my busi­ness and her baby cries all the time.

‘‘I am very di­rect about that, I turn around and say aren’t you bet­ter to have a cry­ing baby than an in­jured baby?

‘‘I have seen chil­dren stand­ing on the front seat, not in car seat and I have been abused by the mother when I have said some­thing.

She says on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions peo­ple have come to her to in­stall car seats they have pur­chased on Trade Me un­aware they have pur­chased an ex­pired seat.

She has spo­ken to plenty of par­ents whose chil­dren are in seats that are in­ap­pro­pri­ate for their age group.

‘‘You can’t blame the peo­ple, they just don’t know.’’

But de­spite the abuse she re­ceives, she loves the job and she knows it’s an im­por­tant one. ‘‘It’s for my pas­sion of chil­dren. ‘‘I have looked af­ter chil­dren for 14 years now. I find it re­ward­ing.’’

She never charges for her ser­vices, de­spite the fact mul­ti­ple seats can take up to two hours to fit.

‘‘It’s a service, and like look­ing af­ter kids, it’s one that I en­joy do­ing.’’

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