Death of current or former client

Follow this procedure in the event of the death of a current or former client.

Introduction

If a child dies who was a client at the time of their death or where their case has been closed for less than 12 months, a child death inquiry occurs in accordance with the Commission for Children and Young People Act 2012.

The child death inquiry promotes continuous improvement to policies and practices for the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Inform your supervisor or the team manager immediately you become aware of a death or suspected death of a current or former client.
  • Complete a category one incident report.
  • In the event of the death of a current client – complete all case recording up to the time of the death, including paper file and CRIS.
    • Case records must be preserved in their entirety.
    • Record the child as deceased.
    • Do not make amendments or additions to existing case records. If corrections or clarifications are required, make a new case note referencing the original entry.
    • Use a new case note to record any case activity not yet recorded before the death.
    • Any data fix request must include a rationale and be approved by a team manager.
  • If the child was subject to an order or proceedings before a Children's Court, notify the court of the death, and consult the CPLO or rural solicitor about withdrawal of the order or proceedings.
  • Seek support and debriefing from your supervisor.
  • If asked to provide statements surrounding the circumstances of the child’s death as part of a coroner’s investigation, seek advice from your supervisor. Legal services will assist with this request and must review a statement before it is provided to a coroner.
  • Consider participating in child death review processes.

Team manager tasks

  • Inform the area manager and the child protection operations manager of the death, and as well as the Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch (Child Protection Unit).
  • Check that a category 1 client Incident report is prepared in accordance with incident reporting guidelines.
  • Provide a copy of the incident report to the Commission for Children and Young People and the Child Protection Unit, Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch.
  • Make sure CRIS contains a record of the death, and a note of advice provided to police and the Coroner’s Court if required. If requested by the police or Coroner’s Court, make a copy of the client file and provide it for use in a coronial inquest. Reporter details must be removed.
  • Arrange for affected staff to receive independent debriefing and support through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and/or the Critical Incident Stress Management Service (CISM).
  • If the client is known to youth justice, disability services, or other department services, oversee a coordinated response to the death if necessary.
  • Oversee the process of advice to out-of-home care services and other external services if required.
  • In the event of the death of an Aboriginal child – contact ACSASS as soon as possible. There may be sensitivities extending through the Aboriginal community. These issues should be discussed with ACSASS.
  • Oversee assessment of the safety and needs of other children in the family and direct timely follow-up as necessary.
  • Consider the family’s support needs and guide timely follow-up as necessary. This may include an offer of practical support with funeral costs and arrangements.
  • Liaise with police when required.
  • Oversee staff debriefing.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • Provide a ten-day ministerial briefing, including analysis of practice.
  • Report the death of a current client to the Coroner’s Court as soon as possible. The death of a current client is required to be reported under s. 11(1) of the Coroners Act 2008.
  • Report the death of a former client to the Coroner’s Court if the death appears to be reportable (a death that is unexpected, unnatural or violent, or resulted directly or indirectly from accident or injury), or reviewable (if the deceased child is the second or subsequent child of the parent to have died).
  • Consult the Child Protection Unit, Statutory and Forensic Services Design Branch to clarify information and actions.
  • If the deceased is a former client whose case has been closed for more than 12 months, consider what action may be appropriate. If the circumstances of the death are likely to attract public interest, a ministerial briefing may be appropriate.
  • Oversee briefing processes and ongoing actions.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.
  • Oversee staff debriefing.
  • Oversee follow-up and support to family.
  • Assist staff if they are required to give statements surrounding the circumstances of the child’s death as part of a coroner’s investigation. Seek advice from legal services regarding any request to give statements and ensure that legal services reviews any statement before it is provided to a coroner.
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