Notes on the data: Aboriginal potential years of life lost, by selected cause
Potential years of life lost from deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 0 to 74 years, by selected cause, 2016 to 2020
Policy context: As noted for premature mortality, above, over the years 2016 to 2020, almost four in five (77.7%) deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people occurred before 75 years of age, over twice (2.36) the proportion for non-Indigenous Australians, of 33.0%: details here.
However, depending on the age at which a person dies, the number of years of life lost had they lived until, say, 74 years of age will vary. Potential years of life lost (PYLL) is a measure of the sum of the potential years of life lost from deaths at 15 years (60 years), 45 years (30 years) and so on, assuming they had all lived to 74 years of age.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare note that, on this measure, a particular PYLL value will be higher if mortality among children or young people is high; chronic diseases causing death among the elderly, on the other hand, have little effect on these values .
There were 62,625 PYLL by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on average over the five years 2016 to 2020 in the five jurisdictions (combined) for which data are available – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Of the PYLLS in these jurisdictions, 59.7 per cent of which were for males and 40.3 per cent were for females .
Some notable variations shown by the data for the five years 2016 to 2020  are:
- the range between the selected causes was from 2.4 PYLLs per 1,000 population for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to 14.5 PYLLs per 1,000 population for circulatory system diseases and 24.6 PYLLs per 1,000 population for external causes;
- for each of the selected causes the rates were highest in the Northern Territory, excluding those for external cause where the highest rate was recorded in Western Australia, with 36.7 PYLL per 1,000 population;
- the rate of PYLLs from diabetes for those living in the most disadvantaged areas was five times (5.02) times that in the least disadvantaged areas across Australia – in New South Wales, with the largest gap, it was 4.97 times; and
- for those living in the Very Remote areas in the combined jurisdictions, PYLL rates for diabetes were 4.64 times and those in the Major Cities areas – the variation in rates between the Major Cities and Very Remote areas were nearly four times higher for road traffic injuries (3.94), over two and a half times higher for ischaemic heart disease (2.56) and circulatory system diseases (2.51 times).
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Deaths in Australia. Available from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/web/152/deaths/deaths-in-australia/contents/age-at-death; last accessed 3 February 2020.
- PHIDU, based on 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; 2016 to 2020.
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 general, 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: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3303.0Explanatory+Notes12012.
However, data published here are from the following releases: 2016 and 2017, final; 2018, revised; and 2019 and 2020, preliminary.
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, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area
Numerator: The sum of the number of years between the actual age at death and 75 years of age for all deaths by selected causes of each of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 0 to 74 years
Denominator: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 0 to 74 years
Detail of analysis: Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate of potential years of life lost per 1,000 population (aged 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 2016 to 2020 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 proportional estimated resident population (erp), developed by PHIDU, 2016 to 2020 average: click herefor more details.