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CHOICE demands action on unsafe products for children

We joined doctors, industry experts and parents at an event in Canberra to campaign for better product safety laws.

Last updated: 11 September 2019

Need to know

  • Our test data has found many products designed for children as well as everyday household items (particularly those containing button batteries) pose significant safety risks
  • 98% of portable costs we tested in 2011–2018 and 83% of strollers tested in 2012–2019 failed our safety tests
  • More than 27,000 Australians have joined our campaign calling on the federal government to make it illegal to sell unsafe products

Notification: In December 2020, after years of campaigning by CHOICE and other organisations, the Australian government introduced mandatory safety standards for button batteries. This standard will help prevent children from gaining access to the batteries which, if swallowed, can be lethal. Manufacturers, suppliers and retailers have been given 18 months to comply with the new standards. 

CHOICE product safety campaigners, industry experts and medical professionals converged on Canberra today to demand legislative action against the hundreds of unsafe products being sold in Australia every day. An analysis of our test data has found that hundreds of everyday household products, including those specifically for children, are failing standard safety tests.

  • 98% of portable cots tested 2011–2018 failed safety tests
  • 83% of strollers tested 2012–2019 failed safety tests
  • 59% of cots tested 2012–2019 failed safety tests

Government inaction on unsafe products containing button batteries is another significant issue, with an investigation earlier this year finding 10 out of 17 button battery-powered household items were dangerous. Around 20 children present to hospital emergency departments every week in Australia due to a suspected button battery ingestion or insertion.

"The Australian government should make it illegal to sell unsafe products. New safety laws would see companies face large fines for flooding the Australian market with unsafe junk," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland. 

"We need stronger laws to curb the risks associated with unsecured button batteries and other products that we already know are unsafe but are still being sold."

We take our product safety campaign to Canberra

We take our product safety campaign to Canberra


Button batteries pose a serious risk to children, and we found they're easily accessible in many toys and everyday household products.

Parents Andrea Shoesmith and Allison Rees, who both had children who died after swallowing a button battery, shared their stories with parliamentarians to illustrate the real cost of unsafe products and the importance of putting in place effective legislation. Representatives from the Australasian Furnishing Association and the medical sector were also present.

"It's been four years since I lost Bella and there have been countless injuries to children because of button batteries," says Rees. "Some can't eat, have breathing injuries, others are paralysed. Something should have been done a lot earlier."

It's too late for Bella, but it's not too late for everyone else. I want to do all I can to protect the kids of Australia

Allison Rees, mum of Bella who died in 2015 after ingesting a button battery

"Businesses should be legally required to take reasonable steps to make sure the products they sell are safe," says Kirkland. "It's really that simple. Without this reform, people will continue to be hurt and even killed by dangerous products like button battery-powered devices. It's essential that parliament be forced to take this problem seriously and legislate a solution."

How can you help?

More than 27,000 Australians have joined CHOICE's campaign asking for the federal government to put an end to the availability of dangerous products. Join our campaign and find out more by completing the form below.

For more than 50 years, CHOICE supporters have been fighting for fair, safe and just markets. And thanks to people power, we've had some amazing wins.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.