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In July 2016, following the death of a 21-month old child, the Queensland Government requested the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) to oversee the reviews by the then Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women (Child Safety), now the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs and Queensland Health to: 

  • confirm whether both departmental reviews into service delivery were conducted thoroughly
  • provide any guidance on necessary system changes to improve the system.

In April 2017 the QFCC released its report titled A systems review of individual agency findings following the death of a child. This report found that while Child Safety‘s internal review processes were effective and comprehensive at an agency level, Queensland’s current system of reviewing deaths of children known to Child Safety did not consider or identify the systemic changes needed to protect vulnerable children.

The QFCC’s single overarching recommendation was to ‘consider a revised external and independent model for reviewing the deaths of children known to the child protection system’ that includes the following features:

  • a review model scope that extends to cover both government and non-government agencies
  • extended powers and authority including the power to make and monitor recommendations
  • public reporting on the outcomes of child death reviews
  • review of the panel governance arrangements, such as selection and appointment of panel members
  • promotion of learning and analysis of decision-making, the timely and transparent consideration of systems issues and inter-agency collaboration during the internal review process. 

The Government accepted the recommendation and the Honourable Yvette D’Ath, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, introduced the Child Death Review Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 on 18 September 2019. The Bill was assented on 13 February 2020, becoming the Child Death Review Legislation Amendment Act 2020 with commencement on 1 July 2020.

The Act established a new child death review model by:

  • requiring more agencies involved in providing services to the child protection system, that is, the Department of Education, the Department of Youth Justice, the Queensland Police Service, and Queensland Health, in addition to Child Safety and the Director of Child Protection Litigation (DCPL), to conduct internal systems reviews of their service provision
  • establishing a new, independent CDRB hosted by the QFCC and tasked to carry out systems reviews following the death of children connected to the child protection system to identify:
    • opportunities for continuous improvement in systems, legislation, policies and practices, and
    • preventative mechanisms to help children and prevent deaths that may be avoidable. 

The QFCC was selected as the host agency for the CDRB given synergies that include the management of the Child Death Register in Queensland and its existing child death prevention responsibilities.

The new child death review model commenced on 1 July 2020.