Stats reveal 41 child deaths
Deaths among WA’s most vulnerable children have reached their highest level in more than a decade.
Statistics from the Ombudsman, who investigates deaths of children known to child protection agencies, reveal 41 of those children died in 2015-2016.
There has not been a worse year for such cases since the Ombudsman began reviewing child deaths in 2009 and it equals the 41 investigable deaths reported in 2011-12.
It is the highest number of deaths since 2003-04.
As The West Australian continues to highlight the plight of the children of WA’s most troubled families, the Ombudsman’s statistics are another indication of the tragic outcome for some of the State’s most disadvantaged.
An “investigable death” is triggered for the Ombudsman if, in the two years before the death, the chief executive of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support has received information that raises concerns about the wellbeing of the child, or a child relative of that child. Since 2009, 232 deaths have been deemed investigable.
Despite making up just 6 per cent of the total WA population aged under 18, Aboriginal children made up 56 per cent of the deaths.
Most lived in regional and remote locations and of all the deaths of Aboriginal children notified to the Ombudsman, more than one in five was a suicide.
A parliamentary report tabled last week by Liberal MP Graham Jacobs found despite numerous reports over nearly two decades, little had been done to halt the rising rate of Aboriginal youth suicide.
“The suicide rates of Aboriginal people in certain areas of WA are among the highest of anywhere in the world,” Dr Jacobs said.
In a recent speech, WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin questioned the Ombudsman having the investigative responsibilities rather than the State Coroner.
“It might be asked what purpose is served by this division of powers and resources,” he said. If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
A Parliamentary report was tabled recently by Liberal MP Graham Jacobs.