Report shows 69 children known to Queensland’s child protection system died between 2021-2022

A report from the Queensland Family and Child Commission shows 69 children who were known to the child protection system died between July 2021 and June 2022, an increase from 53 children the year before.

The deaths of 55 children in the same period have been investigated by the Child Death Review Board.

The board’s second annual report, tabled by Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman on Thursday, shows 51 per cent of those children were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, reflecting the over-representation of First Nations children in the child protection system.

Almost 70 per cent of the reviewed cases were under the age of four.

Of the 55 children, 31 died due to external causes — including six children who drowned and another six who died by suicide.

One was a child between 10 and 14 years of age.

Three children died due to fatal assault or neglect. Ten children died in similar circumstances the previous year.

Four children were under permanent guardianship orders in foster or kinship care and two were in residential care, but the majority were living independently or with family and friends at the time of their death.

The board’s chair Luke Twyford said the deaths were confronting.

“One death is one too many, particularly where it’s preventable and where there are threats and safety issues in that child’s life that are known and that could be responded to.”

Mr Twyford said the report shows “systemic failings” in the lives of many of the reviewed children.

“What we’re showing is the failings relate to the interaction between systems and the lost opportunities for intervention when people who are responding to that child or to the family don’t understand what other frontline workers are working on,” he said.

What were the report’s recommendations?

The CDRB made six recommendations regarding:

  • Service accessibility and delivery
  • Continuity of care
  • Responses to domestic and family violence
  • Safety of infants and unborn children
  • Safety of children with a disability

The report found a “cluster of cases” in regional areas where agencies were unable to sustain “meaningful service engagement” with Aboriginal children.

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