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Reviewable Deaths FAQs

What is a reviewable death?

A reviewable death a category of reportable deaths that must be investigated by a coroner. It involves the death of a second or subsequent child of a parent, with some exceptions. 

A child is anyone under 18 years of age. The child will have died in Victoria, or the cause of death occurred in Victoria or the child lived in Victoria but died elsewhere.

Coroners do not investigate children who are stillborn. Children who lived their entire lives in hospital are also not considered reviewable deaths, unless otherwise determined by a coroner.


Who is considered a parent?

Along with the biological parents, parents can include:
• step-parents
• adoptive parents
• foster parents
• guardians
• anyone who has custody or daily care and control of the child
• anyone who has the powers, responsibilities and authority that parents legally have.


Why does the coroner need to investigate reviewable deaths?

Coroners investigate reviewable deaths to:
• find the identity of the child who died
• determine the cause of their death and, in some cases, the circumstances
• assess the family’s health needs
• assess, with other agencies, the needs of living siblings or any risk to other children.


Who tells the coroner about a reviewable death?

Medical practitioners and the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages must tell the court
when they identify a reviewable death.
A member of the community, including the police, must also notify the court of a
reviewable death if they have grounds to believe that the death has not already
been reported.


What happens if my child’s death is a reviewable death?

Once the coroner has been notified of a reviewable death, he or she will assess whether they need to investigate further.
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) may also take part in the investigation.VIFM provides forensic and scientific services to the court.

If a coroner refers a case to VIFM to investigate, the court’s Family and Community Support Service will contact the family to let them know. The Paediatric Liaison Officer at VIFM may get in touch to assess the family’s health and support needs.
This may involve referring them to specialised health or support services, or other agencies.