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Victoria considers tougher punishments for parents who leave children in cars

Sunday January 19, 2014 - 14:08 EDT
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Parents are being warned about the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars. - ABC

The Victorian Government is considering tougher penalties for parents who leave children unattended in cars after a spate of incidents during the state's heatwave.

Ambulance Victoria has responded to dozens of incidents on days when the temperatures soared past 40 degrees.

In one incident last weekend, a six-month-old baby was rescued from a hot car at Stawell.

Victorian Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge says she is shocked by the reports and does not want to see a repeat of the behaviour.

"It's dangerous and irresponsible for parents to leave children on hot cars or unattended at any time," she said.

"Leaving children in hot cars can lead to a tragic outcome. We are looking at further penalties.

"We need to take into account whether this will help to deter parents from this dangerous action and know about protecting their children."

Current legislation makes leaving a child unattended in a car a criminal offence, with penalties ranging from fines of $2,165 or three months in prison.

In the 12 months to August there were 1,100 incidents state-wide.

Victoria's Minister for Children Wendy Lovell says some parents do not realise that it is illegal to leave their child unattended in a car.

"People need to remember that this is not only illegal in Victoria but it can also be fatal for a child," she said.

Ms Lovell said the temperature inside a parked car during summer can be up to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.

"I've seen the temperature in a car go from 34 degrees to 65 degrees in four-and-a-half minutes," she said.

"They (parents) need to remember that children are smaller, they dehydrate very quickly.

"Their underdeveloped nervous system places them at a much greater risk of life-threatening heatstroke, dehydration and other health risks than older children or adults."


© ABC 2014

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