Qld acts on child death review findings

Nick Gibbs |

An audit into the Queensland government’s management of youth suicide risk is being acted on after a report found many vulnerable young people were left waiting for a management plan.

Between 2004 and 2019, data from the Queensland Child Death Register shows that youth suicide in the state has increased by an average of 2.6 per cent per year, the Child Death Review Board 2020-21 annual report says.

Almost 60 per cent of young people eligible for a medium-to-long-term suicide risk management plan, who were under community supervision by Youth Justice, had not had one developed.

Examining why was one of 10 recommendations made in the report.

“Staff are often required to assess suicide risk without the benefit of specialist expertise and cultural advice, and agency guidelines do not always cover the range of circumstances that can increase suicide risk,” the report states.

In a response tabled to parliament on Thursday, the government said outcomes of the audit have or are being implemented, including updates to address timeframes for the plans.

“The death of a child in any circumstances is an absolute tragedy and it’s crucial that when a child known to the child protection system dies, we learn from these tragedies to prevent future deaths,” Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said.

In the report delivered in October, the board reviewed 55 cases relating to the death of children and young people who were connected to the child protection system.

Among the areas that require monitoring are an over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and changing circumstances in youth suicide.

It made 10 recommendations relating to engagement with services, accuracy and quality of child protection assessments and accessibility and availability of suicide prevention and postvention responses.

The government has either accepted or accepted in principle all of the recommendations.

“A number of important initiatives that seek to implement the board’s recommendations are already underway across government and additional programs, policies and practices will undergo further development in the coming the months to help protect vulnerable children and young people from harm,” Minister for Children Leanne Linard says.

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