Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by selected cause

Deaths from external causes, Aboriginal persons aged 0 to 54, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years, 2011 to 2015


Policy context:  Deaths from external causes, commonly described as deaths from accidents and injury, are deaths caused by environmental events and circumstances that are external to the body. External causes of death can be classified as 'unintentional', such as transport accidents, falls, and accidental drowning or poisoning; 'intentional', such as suicides and homicides; and those which occur due to the complications of medical and surgical care (commonly referred to as 'adverse events') [1].

In 2015, intentional self-harm, land transport accidents, accidental poisoning and assaults were the fifth, ninth, twelfth and fourteenth leading cause of death among Indigenous peoples living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT, accounting for 11.9% of all Indigenous deaths [1]. Deaths by intentional self-harm (152 deaths) and land transport accidents (84 deaths) made up 5.3% and 2.9% of all Indigenous deaths, respectively. After age-adjustment, deaths from intentional self-harm were more than twice as common for Indigenous people (25.5 per 100,000) than for non-Indigenous Australians (12.5 per 100,000), and those from land transport accidents around three times as common (15.0 and 5.2 per 100,000 respectively). After age-adjustment, the death rate for injury from assault was 8.4 times higher (7.6 per 100,000) than for non-Indigenous people (0.9 per 100,000).

Deaths for intentional self-harm, land transport accidents, accidental poisoning and assaults were particularly high among Indigenous people aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years with 68.9% and 52.4% of all deaths within these age group categories, respectively [1].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Causes of death, Australia, 2015. (ABS Cat. no. 3303.0). Canberra: ABS; 2016.

Notes:  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes: V01-Y98

Deaths data

For deaths data released since 2007, the ABS has applied a staged approach to the coding of cause of death which affects the number of records available for release at any date. This release is comprised of preliminary data for 2015, revised data for 2014 and final data for 2011, 2012 and 2013. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites:

Data quality

Almost all deaths in Australia are registered. However, Indigenous status is not always recorded, or recorded correctly. The incompleteness of Indigenous identification (referred to as completeness of coverage) means that the number of deaths registered as Indigenous is an underestimate of the actual number of deaths which occur in the Indigenous population. It should also be noted that completeness of coverage is likely to vary between geographical areas.

While there is incomplete coverage of Indigenous deaths in all state and territory registration systems, some jurisdictions have been assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as having a sufficient level of coverage to enable statistics on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality to be produced. Those jurisdictions are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Indigenous Quintiles and Indigenous Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Aboriginal deaths from external causes at ages 0 to 54, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years


Denominator:  Aboriginal population aged 0 to 54, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 Aboriginal population (aged 0 to 54, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2011 to 2015 Cause of Death Unit Record Files supplied by the Australian Coordinating Registry and the Victorian Department of Justice, on behalf of the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System. The population is the estimated resident population (ERP) from the Australian Census 2011.


© PHIDU This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.