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WA - Reef's Law: WA tenants can fix TVs, furniture to walls without landlord permission

More new reforms for WA tenants.

WA TENANTS will be allowed to fix TVs or furniture to the wall of a rental without the landlord's permission, under new laws sparked by the tragic death of toddler Reef Kite.

Known as "Reef's law", the new legislation will be introduced to State Parliament this week by Acting Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Fran Logan in a bid to stop other youngsters being crushed by heavy furniture or appliances.

The changes were recommended by the WA coroner after little Reef, who was just shy of turning two, was crushed by a chest of drawers that toppled on top of him at his family's rented Yokine home in October 2015.

His mother Skye Quartermaine had put Reef to bed for an afternoon sleep but when she checked on him later she found a 1.25m tallboy, which was not secured to the wall, had fallen forward and landed on her baby.

Ms Quartermaine lifted the drawers off the toddler but he was not breathing, and attempts to revive the youngster failed.

She said the tallboy in her son's room was not bolted to the wall because her landlord had prevented her from doing so.

Since the tragedy, the devastated mother has been vocal in calls for tenants to have the legal right to secure furniture to the walls of their rental properties without permission from a landlord.

Ms Quartermaine, 26, welcomed the new laws and said she hoped it would save other parents from going through the agony and heartbreak she had endured.

"I'm pretty excited actually. I'm so happy to hear that the new laws are finally going through," she said from her Bunbury home, surrounded by her children Malaki, eight, Chase, seven, and Hunter, who at 22 months is almost the same age as Reef when he was killed.

"We've got to keep spreading the message to 'bolt it back'. Reef must have climbed up the drawers and I lost my child as a result. Don't become complacent.

"If you're a tenant, often landlords don't let them bolt furniture to the wall. I didn't think that was fair and I didn't want Reef's death to be in vain. He's not here but now he's always going to be remembered because he changed the law.

"A hole in the wall can be patched easily but you can't replace a child's life, you can't fix the hole in your heart."

The new laws are the culmination of almost three years' campaigning by Ms Quartermaine, who has used social media to spread her heart-wrenching warning to "bolt it back". In the months after losing Reef, she posted: "The horror I saw when I opened his bedroom door will never leave my mind. You can see the damage a falling set of drawers did to my son's head. It's raw, he's dead, but that's the reality of what will happen if you don't restrain furniture. Please bolt it back."

In her inquest findings in 2017, coroner Sarah Linton said the accident was preventable and she urged the WA Government to rewrite the law so tenants did not need permission for "affixing a fixture if it relates to anchoring a television or item of furniture to a wall for the purposes of child safety".

KidSafe WA also backed the changes and said securing heavy furniture, particularly chests of drawers that children could climb and topple, was vital to reducing child crushing deaths.

Since 2001, 22 Australian children under nine have died from toppling furniture.

Mr Logan said the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act would allow tenants to secure furniture to the walls of their rental homes, but they must repair any damage.

A landlord can only refuse the tenant's request to affix furniture if there is asbestos in the house or if it is heritage-listed.

"Toppling furniture is a key child-safety issue. Anchoring furniture can save a child's life," Mr Logan said.

WA toddlers Peter Gelissen and Jasmine Cammilleri were killed in separate tragedies just four months apart in 2012 and 2013 when a TV fell on them.

Source PerthNow

 







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