2. Committee matters

2.1. Legislation and purpose

The Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee operates under Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016.

The role of the Committee is to contribute to the prevention of death or serious injury of children and young people in South Australia.

The Committee reviews the circumstances and causes of death or serious injury to children and young people, and makes recommendations regarding changes to legislation, policies, procedures or practices of government and non-government agencies.

2.2. Committee matters 2019–2020

The Committee met on ten occasions in 2019–20. Three meetings in 2020 were by teleconference as the Committee adapted to COVID-19 meeting requirements.

In addition to attendance at these meetings, each member contributed their knowledge and expertise to regular meetings of one or more Special Interest Groups, including child protection, health, disability, suicide prevention, and Aboriginal children. In-depth reviews were undertaken by teams drawn from the Committee’s membership. The members met as required to plan and complete each review. In 2020, some of these meetings were by teleconference or on virtual platforms. The average number of out-of-session meetings of Committee members was two per month.

The Committee continued its work in the following areas:

  • the timely and accurate collection of information about the circumstances and causes of child deaths and serious injuries
  • identifying cases for review, and undertaking reviews of deaths and serious injuries
  • making recommendations to the Minister for Education regarding systemic changes that will contribute to the prevention of similar deaths or serious injuries
  • monitoring the progress of the implementation of recommendations
  • contributing to government and community knowledge and understanding of the causes of child deaths and serious injuries, and how to prevent them
  • maintaining links with interstate and national bodies undertaking similar work.

2.3 Governance and support

The Minister for Education is responsible for the administration of the provisions governing the Committee. Financial and human resource management support is provided by the Department for Education.

The Committee was supported, in this reporting period, by:

Dr Sharyn Watts

Executive Officer (1.0FTE)

Ms Rosemary Byron-Scott

Senior Project Officer (0.6FTE)

Dr Owen Churches

Senior Statistician (1.0FTE) until 12 January 2020

Dr Jago Van Dam

Senior Statistician/Data analyst (1.0FTE) from 27 July 2020

Ms Una Sibly

Senior Project Officer (0.4FTE)

Ms Nikki Kearney

Administration and Information Officer (1.0FTE)

Review of the Act

In November 2019, the Minister for Education tabled in Parliament the independent review into the Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016.

The Committee provided the Minister with its responses to the recommendations contained in that review in February 2020. The Committee supported recommendations that would enable it to broaden the reach of its prevention efforts by allowing discretionary powers to review the deaths of young people over the age of 18, to contribute to a national database of child deaths, and to enter into arrangements for the conduct of research based on the information it holds.

The Committee understands that the government will determine and advise the nature and timing of any response to the recommendations arising from the independent review, and will include consultation, where relevant.

2.4. The ANZCDR & PG

The Committee continues to support the work of the Australian and New Zealand Child Death Review and Prevention Group. The 2020 annual two-day meeting to be held in Sydney in April was cancelled.

2.5. Future directions

At its strategic planning meeting in September 2019, members recognised that the Committee could enhance its capacity to provide insight and opportunity for system change to service providers. To progress this goal, the members identified strategies for action in the following areas:

  • maximising the Committee’s capacity to create impact by utilising its strengths and expertise
  • building mutually beneficial partnerships with service systems
  • enhancing the Committee’s ability to effect system change through the use of its data.

A Strategic Review Special Interest Group has met three times to progress the development of a strategic action plan based on these strategies.