Responding to child deaths: The work of Australia's Victorian Child Death Review Committee

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The Victorian Child Death Review Committee (VCDRC) in Australia is a multidisciplinary Ministerial Advisory Committee established to review the deaths of children either currently child protection clients or known to the statutory child protection system. The Committee provides advice about each child death as well as insights into what are the surrounding patterns and issues. Key to this role is examining the contribution of the service sectors to the protection of children and the routine practices that are in place to respond to children and vulnerability. This paper provides a snapshot of the cases referred to the VCDRC and the key messages for practice drawn from them. What emerges is that often the threshold for when statutory child protection services must be involved in child and family matters can be ambiguous and that agreement about intervention, the level and nature of need or risk, and when cumulative harm and neglect require statutory responses are not always shared between agencies. It is clear that the lack of common frameworks about what constitutes child protection intervention challenges services. It is recommended that there be and used agreed definitions and frameworks to ensure shared understandings and collaborative responses across the service and legal systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • risk
  • practice/theory/methods
  • law
  • child welfare
  • care management

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