Child Death and Family and Domestic Violence Fatality Review

Child Death Review

The Ombudsman is responsible for reviewing investigable child deaths. A death is investigable when any of the following circumstances exists:

(a)

in the two years before the date of the child’s death, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department for Child Protection (DCP) had received information that raised concerns about the wellbeing of the child or a child relative of the child;

(b)

in the two years before the date of the child’s death, the CEO, under section 32(1) of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the CCS Act) had determined that action should be taken to safeguard or promote the wellbeing of the child or a child relative of the child;

(c)

in the two years before the date of the child’s death, any of the actions listed in section 32(1) of the CCS Act was done in respect of the child or a child relative of the child;

(d)

protection proceedings are pending in respect of the child or a child relative; or

(e)

the child or a child relative of the child is in the CEO’s care.

In addition, the Ombudsman can review the death of a child where it appears that the actions of other State government agencies may have been relevant to the life of the child.

Family and Domestic Violence Fatality Review

On 1 July 2012, the Ombudsman commenced a new role to review family and domestic violence (FDV) fatalities. A FDV fatality is a death that is caused directly or indirectly by a person who was in a family or domestic relationship with the deceased. A family and domestic relationship means a relationship between two people:

(a)

who are, or were, married to each other;

(b)

who are, or were, in a de facto relationship with each other;

(c)

who are, or were, related to each other;

(d)

one of whom is a child who —

 

(i)    ordinarily resides, or resided, with the other person; or

 

(ii)   regularly resides or stays, or resided or stayed, with the
        other person;

(e)

one of whom is, or was, a child of whom the other person is a guardian; or

(f)

who have, or had, an intimate personal relationship, or other personal relationship, with each other.

Other personal relationship means a personal relationship of a domestic nature in which the lives of the persons are, or were, interrelated and the actions of one person affects, or affected, the other person.

Related, in relation to a person, means a person who —

(a)

is related to that person taking into consideration the cultural, social or religious backgrounds of the two people; or

(b)

is related to the person’s —

 

(i)   spouse or former spouse; or

 

(ii)  de facto partner or former de facto partner.

The Role of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman has a number of functions in relation to the review of child deaths and family and domestic violence fatalities:

  • Reviewing the circumstances in which and why child and FDV deaths occur;
  • Identifying patterns and trends that arise from reviews of child and FDV deaths; and
  • Making recommendations to public authorities about ways to prevent or reduce child and FDV deaths.

The Ombudsman also comprehensively reports on the undertaking of both of these roles.