Threats to kill - advice

This advice provides additional information regarding managing threats against the life of a child, parent or carer during any phase of child protection involvement.


See Threats to kill for tasks that must be undertaken.

Fatal assaults are discussed in annual reports of the Victorian Child Death Review Committee, which highlight parental assault as the cause of a significant proportion of all child deaths. This is particularly true of very young children.

Although such deaths cannot be reliably predicted, a 2002 New South Wales inquiry into the 'Fatal assaults of children and young people' indicates that a proportion of victims were known to child protection. It is especially important for practitioners and managers to take notice of explicit or implicit threats to a child, parent or carer's safety, which are made by a parent or caregiver, to consult with a supervisor and to take appropriate immediate and longer term action.

Risk indicators for fatal injuries in children

The identified risk indicators for fatal injuries in children and young people include:

  • abuse or use of illicit drugs by one or both parents
  • abuse of alcohol by one or both parents
  • financial stress or difficulties
  • family violence
  • parental relationship breakdown
  • parents criminal history
  • low birth weight of the child.

Case conference when there has been a threat to kill or injure

Where an explicit or an implicit threat to kill or injure a child has been made the child protection practitioner must alert their supervisor and Victoria Police and commence planning to determine the intervention required to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing. The planning of the intervention needs to consider factors relating to the child and the parent, the legal status of the child and the role child protection currently has with the child. This is considered a critical incident and planning, decision making and actions must reflect this urgency.

The team manager must consider whether to convene a case conference to plan the intervention required to address the child's ongoing protection needs, including the threat made to their life. If no case conference is convened, the team manager must record the rationale in CRIS. The meeting could be chaired by a team manager, senior practitioner or a practice leader. 

Note that this practice requirement applies throughout child protection involvement irrespective of phase. Where a threat has been made against the life of a child during the intake and assessment phase, and the report is yet to be classified, or the case is to be closed, the requirement is to be met during the intake phase. Where a case conference is convened in the intake phase before a report has been classified as a protective intervention report or a wellbeing report, information exchange must comply with legislative provisions contained in Section 35 of the CYFA.

Where the report has been classified as a protective intervention report the requirement should be met during the investigation phase.

Related procedures