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3228.0 - Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1999  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/08/1999   
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4.18. The registration of births and deaths in Australia has been compulsory since the middle of the nineteenth century when legislation was passed by the various colonies. Since Federation, each State has maintained its own system of registration governed by independent legislation. However, 'model legislation' aimed at providing a high degree of consistency at the national level is progressively being introduced by various States.

4.19. The collection, processing, compilation and dissemination of births and deaths data are the joint responsibility of the various State Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Registrars have the responsibility of administering the registration process, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics of producing statistics from relevant data. This cooperation between the State Registrars and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has a long history and has resulted in the availability of a long time series.

4.20. The process of birth registration is closely linked with the administration of hospitals and maternity clinics where an overwhelming majority of births in Australia take place. Although no country-wide statistics are kept on home births these are believed to comprise a very small portion of all births. By arrangement with the Registrars, birth registration forms are supplied to hospitals and clinics for distribution to parents.

4.21. Completed registration forms are either sent in by post or delivered to the Registrar. Some hospitals assist with the dispatch of completed forms to Registrars. Most registrations, however, are forwarded through the mail.

4.22. The Registrars are sometimes further assisted by hospitals and clinics which, in addition to distributing registration forms to parents, notify Registrars regularly of births which occur in those institutions. Mid-wives and doctors are also required to report births which they deliver away from hospitals and clinics. For those births known to Registrars (through the notification system and from other sources) but not registered within a prescribed time period, the Registrars remind the parent(s) or other qualified informants of their duty to register the birth. Reminders are sent by post to the persons concerned. (If there is no response the Registrar may register the birth with the information available). This reminder system together with the general recognition among the population that a birth certificate is an essential identification document, ensures almost complete registration of births.

4.23. The process of death registration is closely linked with the certification of cause of death and disposal of the body.

4.24. The law requires the medical practitioner who attended a deceased person before his or her death or examined the body after death, to sign a certificate of cause of death and to deliver or forward this certificate to the Registrar either directly or indirectly through the funeral directors or through the person responsible for completing the registration form. In all cases, registration of a death is not complete and the disposal of the body not permitted without a medical certificate or a document or order from the coroner. Although no systematic research has been conducted to assess the accuracy of death data, there is no reason to expect them to be deficient to any degree given the tight control over death registration and the disposal of bodies.

Accuracy

4.25. Comparison of estimates of the population of very young ages based on birth and death registrations with data from the Census provide some confirmation of the high quality of vital registrations in Australia.

4.26. The quality of data on birth and death occurrences are affected by the time lag between the date of occurrence and the date of registration. More information on these lags, and how adjustments are made to compensate for them, is provided in Appendix 2).

4.27. While improving, occurrences of Indigenous births and deaths are not fully identified through birth and death registrations, primarily through the difficulty in correctly identifying the Indigenous origin. Estimates of the coverage of Indigenous births and deaths can be made by comparing those registered with the number expected according to Census estimates of the Indigenous population and Indigenous fertility and mortality rates. However, this is made more difficult by the significant increase in the Indigenous population over each intercensal period. (This change in propensity to identify as Indigenous is detailed further in Appendix 5). As such, independent estimates of coverage have been made using both the 1991 and 1996 Censuses. The estimated coverage of Indigenous births and deaths are provided in Table 4.6 and Table 4.7 respectively.

4.6:
Estimated Percentage of Indigenous Births Registered as 'Indigenous'
NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
NT
ACT
Aust.

Based on 1991 Census
1992
2
87
-
109
80
78
100
27
44
1993
54
84
1
99
99
93
100
80
60
1994
83
87
1
99
100
84
97
107
68
1995
96
89
1
102
93
88
98
91
70
1996
99
76
101
101
94
79
96
112
96
1997
113
72
119
106
89
97
89
87
103

Based on 1996 Census
1992
1
81
-
96
83
56
100
18
37
1993
39
78
1
87
103
66
99
52
51
1994
61
80
1
87
104
60
97
70
57
1995
70
82
1
90
97
63
97
60
59
1996
72
71
79
89
98
56
95
73
81
1997
82
67
93
93
93
70
88
57
87

Source: Births, Australia, 1997 (3301.0).


4.7:
Estimated Percentage of Indigenous Deaths Registered as 'Indigenous'
NSW
VIC
  QLD
(a) (b)
SA
WA
TAS
(c)
NT
ACT
Aust.

Based on 1991 Census
1992
34
50
-
89
93
10
110
-
51
1993
39
46
-
92
102
12
103
113
53
1994
41
45
-
99
99
6
103
111
54
1995
43
44
-
96
100
6
103
90
54
1996
34
43
42
92
95
-
87
50
59
1997
16
80
85
101
89
9
119
36
74

Based on 1996 Census
1992
19
27
-
61
73
5
93
-
34
1993
22
25
-
62
81
5
87
62
36
1994
23
24
-
67
78
3
87
61
36
1995
24
24
-
65
79
3
87
50
36
1996
19
23
29
63
75
1
73
28
39
1997
9
43
58
68
70
4
100
20
49

Source: Deaths, Australia, 1997 (3302.0).




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