Making a difference to the safety
and wellbeing of young South Australians

Vale Dr Mike Ahern

Past and current members of the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee, South Australia and the Secretariat extend their condolences to the family and friends of Dr Mike Ahern.

Mike was a member of the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee from 2016 to 2023. He was a tireless contributor to the suicide prevention and child protection work of the Committee. His advice was always given in light of the needs of vulnerable families and children and the challenges for the on-the-ground worker.

His work for the Committee included analysing the circumstances of death of children who lived with abuse and neglect.  In 2022, Mike assisted the Committee to bring to the attention of government the need for action on squalor, and the associated dangers for children. He also provided advice and guidance concerning the best ways in which CDSIRC could undertake its work within its legislated framework.

Mike brought an academic background of psychology, philosophy, knowledge management and law to the Committee’s work. His academic studies culminated in a PhD on the use of personal knowledge and belief by jurors and juries. He was articled to the Crown Solicitor of South Australia prior to becoming admitted as a practitioner in the Supreme Court of SA in April 1990. He was the Foundation Chairperson of the Privacy Committee of SA established in 1989 and oversaw the implementation of the State Privacy Principles – taking care to craft and interpret the principles so that they did not impede agencies engaged in child protection work. His work as a Senior Solicitor in the Crown Solicitor’s Office focused on child protection, where he acted as counsel for the Minister in the Youth Court. In this work Mike developed an understanding of abuse and neglect that formed the basis of his compassion for the circumstances that some children and their families experience. This theme was at the heart of his interpretation of the law and work for the Committee.

From 2007 Mike was outposted to the Department for Families and Communities as the Managing Solicitor. He was the chief legal advisor to Families SA and the Minister in the areas of youth justice, child protection and adoption, as well as public housing, disability and aged care. As legal advisor to the Department of Education and Child Development, Mike was instrumental in devising a systematic and practical framework to interpret the information sharing guidelines. This enabled agencies within the public sector to share information and improve the safety of children.

Mike worked in the Office of the Legal Profession Conduct Commissioner from 2013 where he provided advice on complex issues of statutory interpretation. At this time he also lectured to police and social workers on information sharing in the area of child protection.

Mike’s contribution to the work of the Committee was foundational to the methodology of child death review in South Australia and his advice and analysis will continue to be valued and used in the Committee’s future work.

On a personal note, Mike was careful and considered in his approach to analysis while also being a warm and humorous team member to work with. The Committee will miss his company greatly.


The Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee (CDSIRC) contributes to the prevention of death and serious injury of South Australian children.

The committee:

  • is an independent, statutory body established under the Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016
  • has reviewed the circumstances and causes of all child deaths in South Australia since 2005
  • collects and analyses information about these deaths from government agencies including the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Department for Child Protection, and the South Australian Coroner’s Court
  • reviews some deaths and serious injuries of children in more detail, and might look for information from agencies such as the Department for Education, SA Health, non-government organisations and private practitioners if they have provided services to the child or their family.

The committee provides recommendations to the Minister for Education, Training and Skills about improvements to legislation, policies or administrative issues based on its reviews, and on the statistical information about child deaths that it has collected and analysed.

SA Gov logo