The step-grandfather of a Queensland girl who died after being repeatedly bashed by her mother has told a coronial inquest he was too busy to help the child.

The girl's mother, a New Zealand citizen, is serving seven years' jail for manslaughter after admitting to bashing her daughter over a two-week period at the family home in Cairns in 2011.

The girl was found dead at the flat.

The father of the woman's former partner told the coronial inquest in Cairns on Monday that in 2010 he noticed bruising on the girl's face and body and at one point thought she'd been punched in the face.

The girl would often be in her room alone when he visited and always wore long-sleeve shirts.

He said when he confronted the mother she admitted to becoming angry and not being able to stop herself from hitting the girl.

Asked why he didn't report the abuse, the man said: "I was too busy working, too busy doing other things".

When pressed, he said he probably did have the time to make a phone call.

The man admitted he would have contacted police had he noticed similar bruising on his biological grandchildren, the woman's other children.

He said part of the reason why he didn't contact authorities was that he feared Child Safety would take away his biological grandchildren or the woman would stop him from seeing them.

The man said he spoke to the woman a dozen times about the abuse and had tried to help her by giving her the contact details of counsellors and taking her to visit a doctor.

When he confronted his son about the abuse, the son said he was trying his best to stop the woman.

The court heard the girl was taken into foster care in 2010 after a teacher's aide noticed bruising on her body which the child said had been inflicted by her mother.

Northern Coroner Jane Bentley asked the child's step-grandfather if he was aware Child Safety only allowed the child to return to her mother as it was believed he would be around to protect her.

The man said no one from that department had spoken to him.

The girl's stepfather was last year sentenced to three years' jail for turning a blind eye to the abuse.

The inquest, set down for five days, will look at what involvement government and private agencies had with the girl before her death.

The girl, her mother, stepfather and step grandfather can't be named for legal reasons.

AAP