The Australian population enjoys good health by world standards, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher death rates than non-Indigenous Australians across all age groups, and from all major causes of death. The overall mortality rates for Indigenous males and females are almost three times those for non-Indigenous males and females. Conditions responsible for the majority of deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include circulatory diseases, external causes, endocrine, metabolic and nutritional diseases, diseases of the respiratory system, and cancer.
This chapter examines the mortality of the Indigenous population. It begins by presenting information on data quality and availability and life expectancy. It then provides data on infant mortality, years of life lost and all-cause mortality, followed by an overview of major causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Lastly, trends in mortality are presented for Indigenous and other Australians.
While the difference in mortality rates between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations is very large, the exact magnitude cannot be established at this time, because of the incomplete recording of Indigenous status on death records. While this limitation restricts precise analysis of the data and presents difficulties for the monitoring of mortality trends over time, it is still possible to provide some measures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality, and to make some comparisons with the mortality of non-Indigenous Australians.