DEATHS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE
There were 2,279 deaths registered across Australia in 2006 where the deceased person was identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or both. The coverage of deaths of Indigenous Australians remains incomplete due to differential levels of recording of Indigenous status on death registrations across jurisdictions. The implied coverage of Indigenous deaths for the period 2002 to 2006 is 56% Australia wide.
The ABS continues to work with state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and other stakeholders to improve the level of coverage in each jurisdiction. For more information on the data quality of Indigenous deaths identification, refer to Explanatory Notes 52-54. A more detailed analysis of Indigenous mortality data will be available in this year's publication of The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2007 (ABS cat.no. 4704.0).
The jurisdictions assessed as having a sufficient level of coverage of Indigenous deaths were Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The total registered deaths in these jurisdictions in 2006 were 1,603. The three major causes of deaths in the Indigenous population of these jurisdictions were Diseases of the Heart and Blood vessels, Cancer and External Causes.
Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels (I00-I99)
Deaths caused by Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels (I00-I99) accounted for 24% of all Indigenous deaths in 2006 in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The two most common types of circulatory system diseases that contributed to Indigenous deaths were Ischaemic heart diseases and Cerebrovascular diseases.
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25), which include angina, blocked arteries of the heart and heart attacks, were the underlying cause of death for 209 (13%) deaths of Indigenous people in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory. Ischaemic heart diseases were the leading cause of death of non-Indigenous people in 2006, accounting for 17% of deaths throughout Australia. Median age at death for Indigenous people in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory who died from Ischaemic heart diseases in 2006 was 58.1 years, compared with 83.4 years for non-Indigenous people throughout Australia. The sex ratio for Indigenous people who died from Ischaemic heart diseases in 2006 was 155 males per 100 females.
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60-I69), which include haemorrhages, strokes, infarctions and blocked arteries of the brain, accounted for 4.5% of deaths of people identified as of Indigenous origin in the jurisdictions assessed as having a sufficient level of coverage of Indigenous deaths in 2006. Median age at death was 67.5 years, compared with 84.8 years for non-Indigenous people throughout Australia. The same number of male and female deaths were attributed to Cerebrovascular diseases.
Cancers (C00-D48) were the main underlying cause of 261 (16%) deaths of Indigenous people in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, of which 51% were male and 49% were female. Of total non-Indigenous deaths throughout Australia, 30% were attributed to Cancers. The median age of deaths with an underlying cause of cancer was 60.7 years for Indigenous people, and 75.1 years for non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.
Of all Indigenous deaths in these jurisdictions due to Cancers, Cancer of the respiratory system and heart (C30-C39) and Cancer of digestive organs (C15-C26) each accounted for 3.7% and 4.2% respectively, of total Indigenous deaths.
External Causes (V01-Y98)
The proportion of deaths attributed to External Causes (V01-Y98) was 16% of registered Indigenous deaths in jurisdictions assessed as having a sufficient level of coverage of Indigenous deaths, compared with 5.7% of registered non-Indigenous deaths throughout Australia. External causes accounted for 260 Indigenous deaths, of which 69% were male and 32% were female. The median age at death for External causes was 31.3 years for Indigenous people and 52.1 years for non-Indigenous people throughout Australia.
Transport accidents (V01-V99, Y85) accounted for 31% (80) of all Indigenous deaths due to External Causes in these jurisdictions - 56 were males and 24 were females.
In Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, Diabetes (E10-E14) was the underlying cause of death for 8.4% of Indigenous deaths. This is compared with 2.7% of deaths of Non-Indigenous people throughout Australia. The median age at death of Indigenous people who died from Diabetes in 2006 was 64.5 years, whereas for Non-Indigenous people, it was 80.9 years. The sex ratio for Indigenous deaths due to Diabetes was 86 males per 100 females.
6.1 Selected underlying causes of death as proportion of total deaths,
By Indigenous status
Infant mortality rates for Indigenous Australians are around twice the rates for all Australians. A high degree of caution should be exercised in regard to interpreting Indigenous infant deaths data, as in addition to the data quality issues that impact on Indigenous deaths data generally (see Explanatory Notes
52- 54), data on infant mortality by Indigenous status is subject to the high variability caused by small numbers.
Of all Indigenous infant deaths (aged under twelve months) registered in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory in 2006, over half (53.9%) were attributed to Conditions originating in the Perinatal Period (P00-P96), which was similar to non-Indigenous infant deaths (52%). The proportion of Indigenous infant deaths with Other ill-defined and unspecified causes (R99) as their underlying cause was more than three times the proportion of non-Indigenous infant deaths recording the same cause of death (15% compared with 4.0%).