New child safety program launches on Coast

Michelle McLaughlin and Central Coast Council Administrator Rik Hart (centre back) with parents and children at Terrigal Children's Centre

An innovative new program which evaluates child pedestrian safety around local childcare centres and promotes safety of children around cars has been launched on the Central Coast.

The program, presented by the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation in conjunction with Central Coast Council and the University of NSW Transport and Road Safety Research Centre, was launched on March 22 at Terrigal Children’s Centre.

The Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation has received Federal Government funding from the National Office of Road Safety to co-design and implement the research pilot project, which is specifically focused on road safety initiatives to reduce child road trauma.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2014 by Michelle McLaughlin, following the death of her four-year-old son Tom due to a pedestrian/motor vehicle crash at MacMasters Beach.

Its mission is to protect child pedestrians from the ever-present danger of roadways and moving motor vehicles, community education and road safety collaborations with government stakeholder partnerships.

McLaughlin said land transport crashes were the leading cause of death for Australian children aged between one and 14.

“Over the past decade from 2013 to January 2023, 587 children aged (up to 16) were involved in a road fatality crash, with 22 per cent of these fatalities occurring when the child was a pedestrian or a cyclist,” she said.

“On average, one child per week dies in Australia this way, and it’s entirely preventable.

“It is especially important for young children to hold their carer’s hand when around busy roads.

“Over the past nine years, the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation has partnered with 68 local government areas in four Australian states with its signage and media campaigns.

“This pilot program is very important, and we thank Central Coast Council for being so proactive.”

Michelle McLaughlin in 2014 with son Tom and daughter Sophie

The community awareness campaign was developed following a partnership with the University of NSW, which analysed the causes of child road trauma and death to identify better prevention strategies, and to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention methods.

“It is vital that parents understand why they must hold hands with their children in traffic environments,” McLaughlin said.

“Parents must actively always supervise children, especially those aged one to 10 years, who have significant cognitive, physical, and perceptual limitations around roadways.

“Due to these limitations, children are unable to keep themselves safe from road trauma events and need adults to perform this responsibility on their behalf.”

Administrator Rik Hart welcomed Council’s involvement in the project alongside 10 childcare centres across the Coast.

“The safety of our children and preventing child road trauma on the Central Coast is of vital importance,” he said.

“This project with the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation will put pedestrian road safety at the top of all our minds.

“Council will be helping to build safety awareness by installing metal Hold My Hand signs, created by the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation, outside of each participating childcare facility.”

Participating childcare facilities on the Coast are Kanwal Little Coast Kids, Kariong Child Care Centre, Niagara Park Children’s Centre, Northlakes Little Coast Kids, Terrigal Children’s Centre, Toukley Little Coast Kids, Umina Child Care Centre, Wyong Little Coast Kids, Kooloora Preschool and Peninsula Community Centre Long Day Care.

Member for Robertson Gordon Reid also lent his support to the project.

“As an emergency department doctor, I am very supportive of initiatives to reduce motor vehicle accidents involving children and boost road safety awareness,” he said.

“The Australian Government will continue working to improve road safety for pedestrians, especially children, in partnership with organisations like the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation and Central Coast Council.”

The program on the Central Coast will involve a pre-survey of attitudes about child pedestrian road safety; a community awareness/educational campaign with educational resource materials supplied to the preschools and after-school care facilities; and a post-survey of attitudes to child pedestrian road safety to gauge the impact of the project.

At the end of the project, the awareness and education materials will remain at the participating centres and a summary of the results will be available later in the year via the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation website.

For more information about the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation visit

Media release, Mar 20
Blue Planet PR