DEMOGRAPHIC, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS: DEATHS

This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

KEY MESSAGES
In 2009, the median age at death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males was 52.5 years and for females, 61.3 years. This was much lower than for the non-Indigenous population (78.0 years and 83.9 years respectively).
For the period 2007–2009, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate was 7.8 deaths per 1000 live births — nearly twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (4.0 deaths per 1,000 live births).

This topic provides an overview of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. All data presented are sourced from the ABS ‘Deaths, Australia, 2009’ publication (cat. no. 3302.0). Care should be exercised when analysing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths data due to quality issues and uncertainties inherent in estimating and projecting the size and structure of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population over time.

DEATHS

In 2009 there were 2,400 deaths registered in Australia where the deceased person was identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (Endnote 1). This represented 1.7% of all deaths registered in Australia in 2009 (140,800 deaths).

In the period 2007–2009, deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people occurred at younger ages than for non-Indigenous people. Deaths within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population were spread across all age groups, whereas deaths of non-Indigenous people were mostly concentrated in the older age groups. Care should be exercised when comparing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous age at death data, as the data may be influenced by differences in identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander deaths by age, as well as different age structures of the two populations.

1.8 PROPORTION OF DEATHS(a)(b), by Indigenous status(c), age group(d) and sex—2007-2009

(a) Data are for NSW, Qld, SA, WA and the NT combined, based on state or territory of usual residence. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT are excluded due to small numbers of registered Indigenous deaths.
(b) Indigenous deaths calculated as the proportion of all Indigenous deaths registered. Non-Indigenous deaths calculated as the proportion of all non-Indigenous deaths registered.
(c) Excludes deaths for which Indigenous status was not stated.
(d) Excludes deaths for which age at death was not stated.
Source: ABS 2010, Deaths, Australia, 2009, cat. no.3302.0.

In New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory combined, the median age at death in 2009 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males was 52.5 years and of females, 61.3 years. This was much lower than for the non-Indigenous population (78.0 years and 83.9 years respectively) (Endnote 2). Likewise, in the period 2005–2009, the age-specific deaths rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females in these jurisdictions were higher than the rates for non-Indigenous males and females in all age groups (graph 1.9). The largest difference occurred in the 35–44 year age group, where the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was five times as high as for non-Indigenous people.

1.9 AGE-SPECIFIC DEATH RATE RATIOS (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)—2005–2009

(a) Deaths per 100,000 population, except age 0. Infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
(b) Deaths where Indigenous status was not stated are excluded. As a result, age-specific death rates may be underestimated.
(c) Death rates based on the average number of death registrations between 2005-2009, divided by the population at 30 June 2007.
(d) Data are for NSW, Qld, SA, WA and NT combined, based on state or territory of usual residence. Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT excluded due to small numbers of registered Indigenous deaths.
(e) Indigenous rate divided by the non-Indigenous rate.
Source: ABS 2010, Deaths, Australia, 2009, cat. no.3302.0.

INFANT MORTALITY

High infant deaths (deaths of children aged under one year) contribute to the younger median age at death of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. For the period 2007–2009, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rate in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory combined was 7.8 deaths per 1,000 live births — nearly twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (4.0 deaths per 1000 live births) (Endnote 2).

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ENDNOTES

1. Care should be exercised when undertaking analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths as results may be affected by under identification of Indigenous deaths in the death registration system, unexplained changes in the number of identified deaths in different data collections and over time, the use of a standard Indigenous status question, changes in administrative processes, and not stated Indigenous status. For more information see ‘Deaths, Australia, 2009’, cat. no. 3302.0, ABS, Canberra, .

2. Data are for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory combined, based on state or territory of usual residence. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are excluded due to small numbers of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This page last updated 16 February 2011
Source:http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/lookup/4704.0Chapter220Oct+2010

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