Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by sex

Deaths of Aboriginal persons aged 0 to 54 years, 2009 to 2013


Policy context:  Around 3,000 Indigenous Australians die each year, resulting in almost 100,000 years of life lost due to premature death [1]. Chronic disease is responsible for a major part of the life expectancy gap; and accounts for some two thirds of the premature deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians [2].


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australian Burden of Disease Study: fatal burden of disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010. (Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 2. Cat. no. BOD 2). Canberra: AIHW; 2015.
  2. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Overview of Australian Indigenous health status, 2014. [Internet] 2014. [cited 2015 May 7]. Available from:


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:  Total Aboriginal deaths at ages 0 to 54 years


Denominator:  Total 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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