November 10, 2022

A shocking rise in childhood deaths from preventable injury has prompted leading safety advocates to demand a similar approach to the road toll campaign to halt the increase.

New figures released in a white paper from Kidsafe Victoria show that childhood deaths from preventable injuries rose 75% in 2020/21 compared to the three previous years.

“Between 2017-2019, an average of 17 children died each year in Victoria from preventable injuries,” said Kidsafe Victoria CEO Melanie Courtney.

“In 2020, that number jumped to 29 and increased again in 2021 to 31 deaths.”

“We also saw increases in serious preventable injuries such as childhood burns and scalds during that period, including a 30 per cent rise in severe injury admissions in 2020.”

Erica Edmands, Kidsafe Victoria President said: “These preventable incidents place tremendous pressure on our health system. Recent figures estimate the cost of hospital admissions for unintentional injury for children under 14 had grown from $46 million in 2016/17 to $65 million in 2019/20.”

“Those figures do not include the high flow-on costs across the rest of the health system or lost revenue.”

The most significant costs are felt by families such as Kerrie, who lost her grandson Lincoln when he was strangled in an incident with a blind cord in 2020. 

“Our lives were torn apart that day. Not only did I lose my beautiful grandson, but part of my son died, too. It’s been two years, and we all still feel completely broken and like we will never smile again.”

With over 80,000 babies born each year in Victoria, 30,000 of them to new parents and carers, Ms Courtney said it was time to provide all families with the tools to build a safe environment for children.

“Child injuries and deaths are preventable when we equip families with knowledge about potential hazards, how to avoid them and treat them.”

Ms Edmands said the Kidsafe White Paper called for a new collaborative approach to childhood safety that would deliver consistent and uniform delivery of services and messaging.

“We believe it’s time to adopt an approach to tackling preventable injury the same way we tackle the road toll.”

“We need a system that enables us to aim for zero deaths because no child deaths are acceptable – particularly when they are preventable,” said Ms Edmands.