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  3. 10. General
  4. 10.19 Systems and Practice Reviews following the serious physical injury or death of a child
  5. Key steps
  6. 1. Actions following the serious physical injury or death of a child

1. Actions following the serious physical injury or death of a child

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 246A, requires the department to review its involvement with a child where the child was known to the department one year prior to their serious physical injury or death, irrespective of whether or not the child is subject to a current open case. A child is considered as being known to the department if:

  • the child is/was in the custody or guardianship of the department; or
  • the department was aware of alleged harm or risk of harm to the child; or
  • the department took action under the Child Protection Act 1999 in relation to the child (including receiving an intake enquiry); or
  • the department reasonably suspected the child would be in need of protection once they were born.

 The Child Protection Act 1999, Schedule 3, Dictionary, defines a ‘serious physical injury’ as:

  • 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.

The review must be completed within six months of the date the department is informed about the child's injury or death (Child Protection Act 1999, section 246D).

1.1 Complete an Intake

The serious physical injury or death of a child should be recorded in an intake to ensure that the information is readily available to staff completing a child protection history check for the family in the future.

The intake is completed by either:

  • the CSSC or RIS responsible for the child, where the injury or death is reported directly to them during business hours
  • CSAHSC, where the injury or death is reported to CSAHSC
  • CSAHSC where the child’s death is reported to Case Review Unit (CRU), Child Safety by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

 The intake process should also consider any siblings of the injured or deceased child.

1.2 Complete a critical incident report

The death or serious injury of a child known to the department constitutes a critical incident, requiring the completion of a Critical incident report form, in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Critical incident reporting policy. 

The ‘Critical Incident Report’ form is completed by either:

  • the CSSC or RIS responsible for the child, where the injury or death is reported to the department during business hours
  • CSAHSC, where the injury or death is reported to the department after hours
  • the Critical Incident Coordinator where the child’s death is reported to the department by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

1.3 Implement actions specific to the death of a child in out-of-home care

The death of a child in out-of-home care must be reported direct to the QPS by either the department or the hospital in which a child dies. In addition, when a child in out-of-home care dies, provide all relevant parties with information about:

  • reportable deaths under the Coroners Act 2003
  • the parents responsibilities for post death decisions and funeral arrangements
  • persons or services available to assist all parties in making relevant decisions, and in dealing with their grief.

For further information, refer to Chapter 5, 9. What if there is a death of a child in out-of-home care?

1.4 Record information following the serious physical injury or death of a child

When information about events and actions that preceded the injury or death of the child is added to case files following the injury or death of a child, including the recording of case notes:

  • it must be clearly stated that the recording of this information has occurred after the injury or death of the child
  • it must be clearly stated why this information is being added after the injury or death of the child
  • any records, including handwritten notes relied upon in recording this information, must be placed on the child's file
  • if the information is sourced from memory and not from a document, this must be stated.

While additional information may be added to case files, client records about events and actions that preceded the injury or death of a child are not to be deleted or altered in any way.   

1.5 Provide file material to the Case Review Unit

The CRU will advise the relevant regional director and CSSC or RIS manager that a review will commence and request that the manager courier one copy of the following to the CRU, within one week:

  • all paper files, including intake records, handwritten case notes and case plans
  • SCAN team minutes and files
  • Information Coordination meeting records
  • relevant Child Safety emails
  • any files held at regional office level, including ministerial and executive correspondence
  • archived files
  • court files
  • carer files
  • supervision files.