Sheila McHale

Sheila McHale

Minister for Disability Services; Tourism; Culture and the Arts; Consumer Protection

    Leaving kids in cars: new WA law toughest in the nation

    22/01/2005 10:40 AM

    People endangering children by leaving them unattended in vehicles will from today face Australia’s toughest penalties as a new law comes into force.

    Community Development Minister Sheila McHale said the action now constituted a specific offence as part of the ‘Children and Community Services Act 2004’.

    Section 102 of the Act makes it an offence to leave children unsupervised in a vehicle where they are likely to suffer emotional distress or temporary or permanent injury to health.

    “In more serious cases dealt with by the District or Supreme Courts, a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of any amount will now apply,” Ms McHale said.

    “For matters dealt with by a Magistrate’s Court, penalties of a maximum of three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $36,000 can be enforced.

    “Our State is leading the way in applying serious penalties for what is today accepted as a serious offence which can have devastating consequences - particularly in our climate.”

    Western Australia’s new maximum penalties are above those applied in all other States.

    The Minister said the community’s angry response to past incidents when children were left in hot cars demonstrated strong support for tough deterrents.

    “Shutting the door and leaving a child alone in a vehicle can be an irresponsible act and a dangerous decision on the part of an adult,” she said.

    “It could lead to distress, injury or in extreme circumstances to death - this Government and the community agree that it is a risk just too great to take.”

    Minister's office: 9213 6900