Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

System and Practice Reviews - Child deaths

Graphs

 Deaths of children and young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 in the three years prior to their deaths, by cause of death, Queensland, 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 Deaths of children and young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 within one year prior to their deaths, by cause of death, Queensland, 2014-15 to 2017-18

Tables

DescriptionAnnual
CD.1: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 in the three years prior to their deaths, by age group, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 11 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.2: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 within one year prior to their deaths, by age group, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 12 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.3: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 in the three years prior to their deaths, by cause of death, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 11 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.4: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 within one year prior to their deaths, by cause of death, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 12 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.5: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 in the three years prior to their deaths, by Indigenous status, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 12 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.6: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 within one year prior to their deaths, by Indigenous status, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 12 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.7: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 in the three years prior to their deaths, by sex, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 11 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)
CD.8: Deaths of children or young people about whom the department received information under the Child Protection Act 1999 within one year prior to their deaths, by sex, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 12 KB) Excel (CSV, 1 KB)

What are Systems and Practice Reviews?

From 1 July 2014, amendments to the Child Protection Act 1999 (the Act) changed the timeframe for a child known to the department from three years to one year. The death of any child about whom the department receives information under the Act in the one year prior to their death will be subject to a review as stipulated by the Act. Information received can range from concerns being received about a child being yelled at or smacked in public, left home alone or attending school without lunch to the most severe forms of child abuse and neglect.

A Systems and Practice Review is conducted in circumstances where:

  • the department was aware of alleged harm or risk of harm to the child
  • the department took action in relation to the child under the Act
  • the chief executive (Director-General) reasonably suspected the child would need protection once they were born, although they were not born at the time the suspicion arose.

Reviews are conducted by the department under Chapter 7A of the Act. The department conducts reviews internally.

The reviews do not investigate cause of death, but consider the service delivery and practice that occurred in relation to the subject child under the Act with a focus on ensuring continuous improvement of service delivery, public accountability and improved outcomes for children. This includes exploring, where relevant, the department's engagement with other agencies in relation to the subject child.

Why this topic is important

Reviews are the key mechanism for in-depth analysis of the department's practice framework, systems and service delivery. The department takes seriously its commitment to openness, transparency and accountability. There is also a commitment to fostering a learning and development culture within the department in order to promote continuous improvement in a practice quality. Reviews directly influence and provide important feedback into legislative reviews, development of operational policy, resources and the ongoing capability development of staff.

In 2017-18, the number of children who died and were known to the department in the one year prior to their deaths was 51. It should be noted that from 1 July 2014 amendments to the Child Protection Act 1999 changed the timeframe for a child being known to the department from three years to one year which has resulted in a reduction of the numbers of deaths of children known to the department since this time.

Given the nature of the causes of death, the number of deaths in any future period is not predictable and any increase or decrease in child deaths over a given period cannot be linked to any single cause.

It is important to note that the deaths of these children and young people stem from a wide range of causes, including:

  • diseases and morbid conditions
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
  • accidental deaths, including road fatalities and drownings
  • suicide
  • fatal assaults.

Across Queensland there has also been an increase in the general population of children aged zero to 17 years, the numbers of children becoming known to the child protection system has increased.

Serious physical injuries

Also as a result of legislative amendments introduced from 1 July 2014 the department is now required to conduct a review when a serious physical injury occurs to a child that is known to the department.

The legislative definition of a serious physical injury is:

  • the loss of a distinct part or an organ of the body; or
  • serious disfigurement; or
  • any bodily injury of a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life, or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.

In 2015-16 there were eight reviews of serious physical injuries completed, in 2016-17 there were seven reviews completed and in 2017-18 there were 18 reviews completed.

The type of serious physical injuries which triggered reviews to be completed included intracranial injuries, other fractures sustained and burns. The majority of these (12) were considered to have occurred as a result of an accident, while three were attributed to non-accidental trauma, one as a result of attempted suicide, one as a result of self-harm and one where the cause was unknown/pending.

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