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In 1996 a number of national agencies concerned about the high rate of child unintentional injury and death in New Zealand came together to plan a Kidsafe Week, to encourage national and local action to prevent child injuries. Other successful “child safety weeks” from around the world were considered as models, and a uniquely New Zealand approach was created with ideas borrowed from parts of other successful campaigns internationally. The inaugural week was so well received that the national agency group has worked together annually to bring Kidsafe Week to New Zealand again and again.
After recently taking place for the fourth time, New Zealand's Kidsafe Week is now firmly established as a high profile, popular annual event, which brings the issue of child unintentional injury into the spotlight, and highlights its predictable and preventable nature. Kidsafe Week also clearly emphasises the part that all members of the community have to play in child safety—not just parents and caregivers. Kidsafe Week strategies and messages are aimed at government and organisations, as well as parents and carers. Over the time that it has evolved, the central aim with which Kidsafe Week was initiated remains very much the same—to create action nationally and locally to prevent injuries to children. Kidsafe Week has excelled at meeting this objective. Nationally, there have been up to 10 key national agencies, with interests in child injury prevention (including generalist agencies, and those with specific interests, such as water safety, electrical safety, or road safety) that have come together to pool resources and expertise to plan the week.
In addition, over the last four years, more than 80 local Kidsafe Week Coalitions, which operate in communities throughout New Zealand, have also developed. These coalitions operate within their own communities delivering the Kidsafe Week messages and resources in the ways most appropriate to their communities. The coalitions are made up of paid and voluntary child injury prevention workers, public health workers, road safety workers, and others committed to improving the child safety of their local communities. The growth in the number of people involved in local Kidsafe Week Coalitions and in the number of local coalitions themselves has been much faster and greater than expected. It is the role of New Zealand's Safekids, as the coordinating agency of Kidsafe Week, to support and encourage the growth and development of coalitions, and ensure that Kidsafe Week meets their needs. Safekids also coordinates the national agency planning group, and ensures that the plans made and resources developed will meet the needs of coalitions and their communities. Every year, a comprehensive coalition process evaluation is carried out to ensure that Kidsafe Week meets coalition needs, and to seek input on ways of improving current Kidsafe Week practice.
In 1999, for the first time, an external evaluation of Kidsafe Week is being undertaken. The Injury Prevention Research Centre of Auckland University is undertaking the evaluation, which will seek information directly from the target groups of Kidsafe Week 1999, including the parents of preschool children, local government elected representatives, and school management. The evaluation was completed in October this year, and information about the impact of New Zealand's Kidsafe Week, which has evaluated very positively in terms of process, is available to those interested.