Squalor inside home may have contributed to baby’s death, inquest hears
Squalor inside a family home may have contributed to the death of an 11-week-old boy, an inquest in South Australia has heard.
The inquest, which started today, heard the Department for Child Protection (DCP) received several notifications about the boy’s teenage mum, including some before he was born.
However child protection authorities have been accused of missing a crucial 10-day window when they could have saved the infant.
The newborn was found unresponsive while sleeping on a pull-out sofa alongside his mother, two siblings and another teenager.
He was taken to hospital in the early hours of November 30 in 2018 but he couldn’t be saved.
The last protection notification had been on November 20.
The young mum refused to engage with her case worker and she was referred back to DCP.
The department was required to act within 10 days but did nothing and on the 10th day the baby died, the inquest heard.
Police officers who then inspected the home described it as some of the worst conditions they had ever seen.
The house was filled with rotten food, cockroaches, faeces and milk bottles which had gone rancid.
The formal cause of death was a respiratory tract infection but the coroner is now investigating whether the living conditions also contributed to the death.
The mother is not the focus of the inquest as she has already been convicted of failing to provide for her children.
The inquiry is examining the family’s interactions with child protection and whether authorities did enough.
Child protection staff are expected to testify in the coming days.