Grim reality of Qld kids more likely to die than their peers

 

From fatal assaults and neglect to drownings and suicide - Queensland children who are known to the Department of Child Safety are four times more likely to die than those who aren't.

Statistics released via the Queensland Family and Child Commission's annual report into child deaths show 53 children died in the 2019/20 financial year who had had some contact with the department in the 12 months prior.

Of those, 14 died from causes that are yet to be determined, 11 from natural causes, nine from assault or neglect, eight from suicide, five from crashes, three drowned, two died from unintentional injuries and one from SIDS or an undetermined cause.

Nine of the 12 children killed through assault or neglect were known to the department.

Willow Dunn’s emaciated body was found in her Cannon Hill home last year.
Willow Dunn’s emaciated body was found in her Cannon Hill home last year.

Among them was Willow Dunn, a four-year-old Down syndrome girl who police allege was neglected and starved and found with sores on her hips so severe her bones were visible.

She was discovered dead in her Cannon Hill home in May last year. The family was known to the department.

Willow's father and stepmother have both been charged with murder under the new definition that includes reckless indifference to life.

The report also includes the deaths of Hannah Clarke's children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, who were murdered by their father after he doused them with fuel and set them on fire while they were strapped into their car seats.

Aaliyah,Laianah and Trey were murdered alongside their mother, by their father.
Aaliyah,Laianah and Trey were murdered alongside their mother, by their father.

The family was not known to the Department of Child Safety, although Hannah had sought protection from police as a victim of domestic violence.

Lyn Burke, whose toddler grandson Hemi was killed by his babysitter, said Queensland has a disgraceful record of not protecting children.

Ms Burke's family was not known to the department but had left Hemi with a trusted friend who beat and tortured the little boy.

Little Hemi Goodwin-Burke was killed by his babysitter.
Little Hemi Goodwin-Burke was killed by his babysitter.

"To know that all these children were known to the department - why wasn't action taken?" she said.

"Are we waiting for these children to be killed and only then taking the siblings away?

"It's all about education, it's about knowledge.

"The next generation of parents need knowledge around family violence. They need to know it is not OK for their new fellow, the father or even themselves to start being violent with children.

"It's not OK at any level. Because that `any level' can turn into a child being dead."

The report also found that four children who died during the 2019/20 financial year had been reported missing at the time of their death.

One of those four was known to the Department of Child Safety.

In total, 378 Queensland children died during the 2019/20 financial year.

Of those, 249 died from natural causes.

Another 21 were killed in "transport incidents", 20 died from suicide and 13 drowned.

Drowning was the leading cause of death in children aged between one and four, while suicide was the leading cause in teens aged 15 to 17.

Originally published as Heartbreaking reality of Qld kids more likely to die than their peers