Victoria’s welfare failure: 65 vulnerable children known to authorities died in one year

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How 65 vulnerable children and teens known to child protection authorities died in one year – as the gripping story of a baby boy’s tragic end is revealed

  • Vulnerable children in Victoria died in 2019-2020 for one a week
  • Child protection services overwhelmed, secret report reveals
  • Data from the Victorian Coroners Court shows that 65 children and teenagers died in one year

Shocking new figures show that 65 children and teenagers known to Victoria’s child protection authorities died in just one year.

The state’s welfare problem in 2019-2020 was exposed by figures from the Victorian Coroners Court released to The AustralianIt showed that of the 65 deaths, 26 cases were still active, while 39 were inactive.

The horror stories covered by the statistics have been exposed in a separate, classified report from the Commissioner for Children and Young People, also obtained by The Australian.

The 59-page highly classified document reveals that child protection services are overwhelmed in the state and in many cases too slow to act.

Shocking new figures show that 65 children and teenagers known to Victoria's child protection authorities died in just one year (stock image)

Shocking new figures show that 65 children and teenagers known to Victoria’s child protection authorities died in just one year (stock image)

One of the most poignant examples brought to light in the report is the story of Baby M – an unwanted child whose mother sought an abortion while she was eight months pregnant, but was rejected because she was too close to birth.

The newborn boy barely survived and was treated for neonatal withdrawal syndrome because of his mother’s drug use.

He was then placed in the care of his grandfather after the mother told hospital staff she did not want to take care of him.

Baby M’s grandfather had a history of domestic violence, ice abuse, homelessness, and depression.

Ultimately, the child tragically died on November 24, 2019 after five separate investigations by Child Protection.

The cause of death is believed to have been SIDS.

A highly classified 59-page document revealed that child protection services are overwhelmed in Victoria and in many cases too slow to act.  Pictured: Victorian Coroners Court

A highly classified 59 page document revealed that child protection services are overwhelmed in Victoria and in many cases too slow to act.  Pictured: Victorian Coroners Court

A highly classified 59 page document revealed that child protection services are overwhelmed in Victoria and in many cases too slow to act. Pictured: Victorian Coroners Court

The report states that child protection often focuses too much on monitoring and compliance rather than understanding and responding to the parents’ underlying support needs.

In some cases, children in need went without intervention for months.

“This delayed response can be attributed to increasing pressure on staff, affecting the ability to prioritize urgent tasks,” the report said.

A Victorian government whistleblower said the draconian 111-day blocking of the coronavirus last year contributed to a shortage of experienced case workers as demand for welfare services spiked.

On the orders of those staying at home, case workers were banned from in-person visits and forced to conduct welfare checks via online video links.

Pictured: Victorian Chief of Children and Youth Liana Buchanan

Pictured: Victorian Chief of Children and Youth Liana Buchanan

Pictured: Victorian Chief of Children and Youth Liana Buchanan

‘The system can’t handle it; children are left in high-risk environments, ”said the whistleblower.

With more than one vulnerable child dying in Victoria every week, the source said a royal child protection commission is now warranted.

“Those are the kind of numbers that should at least raise the possibility that a royal commission is a reasonable answer,” said the child and adolescent psychiatrist.

The Coroners Court data revealed that sudden infant death syndrome, suicide, car accidents, asphyxiation, drugs and assault were the most common causes of death among the 65 children and teenagers.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria’s Child Protection Services for comment.

A government spokesman told The Australian “we know we need to do more to protect young Victorians” and that “every death of a child is a terrible tragedy.”

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health care, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

With more than one vulnerable child dying every week in Victoria, the source said a royal child protection commission is now warranted (stock image)

With more than one vulnerable child dying every week in Victoria, the source said a royal child protection commission is now warranted (stock image)

With more than one vulnerable child dying every week in Victoria, the source said a royal child protection commission is now warranted (stock image)

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