Child death data provides insights into prevention priorities9 December 2022
The number of child deaths in Queensland continues to fall, but new data released by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) shows youth suicide, sudden unexpected deaths in infancy (SUDI) and transport-related deaths are areas where prevention efforts must be prioritised.
QFCC Principal Commissioner Luke Twyford said the QFCC’s 2021–22 Child Death Annual Report gave insight into the tragic deaths of 410 Queensland children and young people aged between 0 and 17 years.
“I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, friends and communities who have lost a child or young person—the death of any child has devastating and long-lasting impacts,” Mr Twyford said.
“In 2021–22, 410 children and young people lost their lives here in Queensland and the stories of their deaths give us valuable insight into the work that is needed to avoid preventable deaths.
“Since the Child Death Register was launched in 2004, we have observed an overall decrease in child deaths, largely due to the decrease in deaths from natural causes.”
Mr Twyford highlighted that while an overall decrease in deaths across the 18-year period was promising, the annual report indicated concerning trends that were deemed priority focus areas.
“Although transport-related deaths have decreased on average since 2004, we have seen higher numbers of transport deaths in the last two years, including 33 deaths in 2021–22, the highest in the last decade,” Mr Twyford said.
“Twenty young people died by suicide in 2021–22, and although the trend indicates a slow increase in the rate of deaths in this category, it was significantly fewer than the worrying number of 37 reported in 2018–19.
“Another key area requiring targeted prevention efforts is the concerning increase in SUDI, with 44 unexpected deaths occurring in Queensland, the highest we have seen in eight years.”
Mr Twyford said he was disappointed that First Nations children and children known to the child protection system comprised more than a third of all child deaths in the state.
“Seventy deaths were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and 69 were children known to the child protection system, each representing 17 per cent of all reported deaths,” Mr Twyford said.
“It is discouraging to again see First Nations children and children known to the child protection system significantly over-represented in the 2021–22 data.”
Mr Twyford said targeted prevention activities needed to continue and be amplified for some causes.
“Over the next five years, our child death prevention activities will focus on generating new insights into child mortality in Queensland and working collaboratively with our partners to identify better ways of preventing these deaths,” Mr Twyford said.
“In 2021–22, we provided data and advice to a range of lead agencies, advisory boards and authorities on topics including inclined sleep surfaces for infants, suicide prevention, vehicle reversing aid technologies and the dangers of toppling furniture.
“We will continue to support child death and injury prevention by making our child death data available for research, public education, policy development and program design.”
The 2021–22 Child Death Annual Report is available to view at www.qfcc.qld.gov.au
For media information contact:
Kirstine O’Donnell | Queensland Family and Child Commission
Phone: 0404 971 164