This is the Commission’s eighth annual report analysing the deaths of children and young people in Queensland focusing on the circumstances and risk factors surrounding external (non-natural) causes of death. The Commission’s Queensland Child Death Register now holds data in relation to 4,074 Queensland children and young people who have died since 1 January 2004. The ensuing child death review process undertaken by my officers is fundamental in helping to develop initiatives to modify the risk factors contributing to preventable fatalities.
The Commission’s mandate to review, register, analyse and report on trends and patterns in child deaths, as embedded in Chapter 6 (Child Deaths) of the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000, honours Australia’s commitment as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). In particular, Article 24 of UNCROC requires that among other things, parties shall fully implement measures designed to achieve the highest attainable standard of health, including taking measures to diminish infant and child mortality.
In 2011–12 the overall rate and number of deaths were consistent with previous years. However, the number of children and young people who died in transport accidents has increased and the number and rate of suicides remains too high.
The rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths remains double that for all Queensland children and young people, highlighting the significant, ongoing disadvantage experienced by this vulnerable group.
The Commission uses the Queensland Child Death Register to actively support prevention efforts in four key ways, namely:
• through providing tailored data to recognised stakeholders in support of their research and advocacy
• by providing evidence-based submissions to help inform policy development and legislative processes
• by conducting its own original research into areas of concern, where no other stakeholders are active, and
• through the preparation and publication of this report each year.
In 2011–12 the Commission utilised a number of opportunities to further promote and share data from the Queensland Child Death Register, collaborate with stakeholders and provide advice to inform policy development. The number of requests for data from the Register continues to increase, with 58 requests received during 2011–12 from a range of stakeholders interested in undertaking advocacy and research aimed at preventing child deaths.