Counting lives, changing patterns

media release

The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) Counting lives, changing patterns report, tabled in parliament on 12 May 2021, reviewed the details of the 7,175 Queensland children and young people who lost their lives in the 16 years between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2019.

QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said over the 16 years the deaths of 7,175 children and young people were registered in Queensland and this report looked at similarities, shared experiences, patterns and trends to identify mechanisms to improve the health and wellbeing of all children.

“The death of any child is tragic, and I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those whose name is attached to these statistics. The loss of any child regardless of circumstances is a tragedy. The impact on family, friends and community is immeasurable,” Ms Vardon said.

“Despite the heart-breaking loss of these young people, I am glad to see a significant reduction in child deaths in Queensland since 2004, with mortality rates decreasing by an average of three per cent per year.

“Deaths from natural causes, non-intentional injuries, transport accidents, drownings and fatal assaults and neglect have all decreased, to varying degrees, over this period.”

Over the past 16 years, there has been a significant decrease in fatal transport accidents, with rates falling an average of 7.9 per cent per year. 

“We have seen a large decrease in road fatalities involving young people aged 15 to 17 years that has occurred since the introduction of a graduated licencing system in Queensland,” Ms Vardon said.

Suicide continues to be one of the leading external factors of child death in Queensland, and it is important awareness continues.

“I am concerned that the rate of suicide for young people aged 15 to 17 years has increased on average by three and a half per cent each year despite widespread suicide awareness campaigns,” Ms Vardon said.

“Queensland has prioritised suicide prevention and is aiming to reduce suicides by 50 per cent by 2026. The suicide prevention plan includes a strong focus on children and young people.

“QFCC coordinated a youth-led mental health event with over 60 young people from across the State co-designing a response to mental health concerns of young Queenslanders.”

The rate of death for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children has seen a significant downward trend however, it still presents a higher mortality rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“While this is encouraging, more must be done to reduce the gap between outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous children,” Ms Vardon said.

“To continue seeing a reduction in mortality rates there needs to be coordinated efforts across all levels of government and genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We need to target the underlying causes of this over-representation in practical and culturally appropriate ways.

“By building on the findings of this 16-year review, we can work together to help improve outcomes for all Queensland children and young people.”

To access the full report, visit the following link.