Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by selected cause

Deaths from respiratory system diseases, Aboriginal persons aged 0 to 54 years, 2009 to 2013


Policy context:  Respiratory system diseases are those that affect the respiratory tract (upper airway, trachea, bronchus and lung). They include cancers of the respiratory system, chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, influenza and other respiratory diseases [1].

Respiratory system diseases are associated with a number of contributing factors, including poor environmental conditions, socioeconomic disadvantage, risky behaviour (particularly tobacco smoking, alcohol use, and substance use) and some previous medical conditions [2][3]. Infants and children are particularly susceptible to developing respiratory conditions, due to factors such as exposure to tobacco smoke, poor environmental conditions, and poor nutrition [2][3].

Many of these diseases cause those affected to die prematurely. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples die from respiratory system diseases at twice the rate of non-Indigenous people [1].


  1. Australia Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australia's health 2010. (AIHW Cat. no. AUS 122). Canberra: AIHW; 2010.
  2. Pierce R, Antic R, Chang A, Howard M, James A, Maguire G et al. Respiratory and sleep health in Indigenous Australians. Sydney: Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand; 2010.
  3. Janu EK, Annabattula BI, Kumariah S, Zajaczkowska M, Whitehall JS, Edwards MJ et al. Paediatric hospitalisations for lower respiratory tract infections in Mount Isa. MJA 2014;200(10):591-4.

Notes:  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes: J00-J99

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. In each release, the latest year’s data is preliminary, the second latest is revised and the data for the remaining years is final. 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.


Numerator:  Aboriginal deaths from respiratory system diseases at ages 0 to 54 years


Denominator:  Aboriginal population aged 0 to 54 years


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


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2009 to 2013 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) (non-ABS) at 30 June 2011, compiled by PHIDU based on data developed by Prometheus Information Pty Ltd, under a contract with the Australian Government Department of Health.


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