Broad cross-government reform is key to improving the child protection system, according to the Queensland’s Child Death Review Board (CDRB) 2021–22 Annual Report tabled yesterday in Queensland Parliament.
CDRB Chairperson Luke Twyford said in 2021–22, the Board reviewed the deaths of 55 children known to the child protection system and made six recommendations for government’s consideration.
“Each of these young lives was important, and their deaths offer invaluable lessons about the actions that must be prioritised across government and the child protection sector to better protect vulnerable families,” Mr Twyford said.
“Of the 55 deaths reviewed, 24 children died from natural causes and 31 children died from external causes, which are often considered preventable.
“The most frequent categories of external cause of death were suicide and drowning, each accounting for six deaths.
“If we look at the children’s placements or living arrangements, 48 children were living with family or friends or living independently at the time of their death, four were in foster or kinship care or on a permanent guardianship order, two were in residential care, and one was in state-based custody.
“Sadly, 25 children were younger than 12 months old when they died, with 11 deaths classified as sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and most of those identifying as First Nations children.
“Discouragingly, First Nations children are again over-represented in the child death data, accounting for more than half of all deaths reviewed, a trend we continue to see nationally across statutory systems.”
Mr Twyford said the reviews identified the children’s touchpoints with government agencies and support services in the 12 months prior to their deaths, which provided insight into the gaps in support.
“This year, we have included case studies of children’s experiences preceding their deaths, which illustrate their interactions with police and the youth justice system, health services, educational institutions, Child Safety, and secondary family support services,” Mr Twyford said.
“These representations clearly show the number of interactions with the system and opportunities for intervention, the intersectional nature of responses across the system, the gaps in service delivery, and the areas for improvement.”
Mr Twyford said the Board’s six recommendations related to the entire human services sector, not just government.
“Our recommendations are deliberately broad and focus on improvements that will require cross-government reform and involvement from organisations across early intervention, targeted support, and statutory intervention,” Mr Twyford said.
“The recommendations focus on opportunities to strengthen service delivery in the areas of workforce reform, continuity of care for young people engaging in high-risk behaviours, domestic and family violence, infants and unborn children and children with disability.
“We recognise effective reform of the child protection system will require extensive collaboration and shared responsibility from all government agencies and sector organisations, and we trust the recommendations made can achieve this.”
The Child Death Review Board 2021–22 Annual Report is available at here.
[ENDS] 9 December 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: Child Death Review Board – Kirby Cook – ph: 0434 683 265