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Release of Child Death Review Board 2020-21 Annual Report

A statement on behalf of the Child Death Review Board

The Child Death Review Board’s 2020–21 Annual Report has been released today.

The Board reviews the deaths of children known to the child protection system. It considers the service delivery by the departments of child safety, police, youth justice, education, health and others involved in delivering services to vulnerable children and families in Queensland.

Through these reviews, the Board identifies opportunities to improve policies, procedures, legislation and systems to prevent avoidable deaths.

The Board reviewed the deaths of 55 children in its first year since being established, with the findings included in the Annual Report.

The death of any child is an immense tragedy and the Board’s heartfelt thoughts are with the families and communities who have lost a child and the professionals who worked alongside them.

Of all 55 deaths reviewed, four children were in foster or kinship care or on a permanent guardianship order at the time of their death, but the vast majority were living with family or friends or living independently.

Sadly, almost two-thirds of deaths were children younger than four and a third were children younger than 12 months.

While ten deaths were from natural causes, the majority were from external causes, which are often considered preventable.

Of the cases reviewed, the leading external causes of death were fatal assault and neglect, transport-related deaths and suicide.

The Board’s reviews highlighted the systemic issues posing a risk to the safety of children known to the system.

The Board has made ten recommendations across three key areas for immediate consideration, including:

  • improved access to family support services and evaluation of their effectiveness in diverting families from needing child safety interventions
  • more thorough assessments of a child’s family protection history, previously observed exposure to harm, patterns of parental behaviour, cultural factors and health advice
  • greater investment in suicide prevention across government and the sector—specifically to reduce the over-representation of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children—to establish a shared understanding of the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and to improve access to mental health and suicide support in schools.

The Board will continue to collect data, consider research, and engage with communities and frontline professionals to monitor trends and changes within Queensland’s child protection system.

The Annual Report is now available to view here.

ENDS 17 February 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Child Death Review Board – Kirby Orr – ph: 0434 683 265