DEATHS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS
There were 2,421 deaths registered across Australia in 2007 where the deceased person was identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or both (Indigenous).
It is considered likely that most deaths of Indigenous Australians are registered. However, some of these deaths are not identified as Indigenous when they are registered. The extent to which this occurs is referred to as coverage of Indigenous deaths. For further information, see Explanatory Notes 58 - 65.
Deaths of Indigenous Australians are under-identified due to differential levels of recording of Indigenous status on death registrations across jurisdictions. The ABS continues to work with state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and other stakeholders to improve the level of coverage of Indigenous deaths in each jurisdiction.
The section below provides a brief summary of deaths due to selected broad level causes.
Further data relating to deaths of Indigenous people can be found in the datacubes associated with this publication. These include Leading causes of death for the Indigenous population of Australia and selected states and territories.
Diseases of the Heart and Blood Vessels (I00-I99)
Deaths caused by Diseases of the heart and blood vessels (I00-I99) accounted for 667 Indigenous deaths in 2007, 28% of all Indigenous deaths. The two most common types of circulatory system diseases that contributed to Indigenous deaths were Ischaemic heart diseases and Strokes.
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25), which include angina, blocked arteries of the heart and heart attacks, were the underlying cause of death for 331 (14%) deaths of Indigenous people. Ischaemic heart diseases were the leading cause of death of non-Indigenous people in 2007, accounting for 17% of deaths throughout Australia. Median age at death for Indigenous people who died from Ischaemic heart diseases in 2007 was 62.0 years, compared with 83.8 years for non-Indigenous people. The sex ratio for Indigenous people who died from Ischaemic heart diseases in 2007 was 161 males per 100 females.
Strokes (I60-I69) accounted for 130 Indigenous deaths in 2007, 5.4% of all Indigenous deaths. Median age at death was 72.0 years, compared with 85.3 years for non-Indigenous people throughout Australia. The sex ratio for Indigenous people who died from Strokes in 2007 was 81 males per 100 females.
Cancer (C00-D48) was the underlying cause of 461 deaths (19%) of Indigenous people, of which 54% were male and 46% 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 61.2 years for Indigenous people, and 75.1 years for non-Indigenous people.
Trachea and lung cancer (C33-C34) accounted for 122 deaths or 5.0% of all deaths of Indigenous people. Comparatively, this type of cancer was the underlying cause of death for 5.6% of all deaths of non-Indigenous people in 2007.
External Causes (V01-Y98)
There were 347 deaths of Indigenous people attributed to External Causes (V01-Y98) in 2007. This represented 14% of all Indigenous deaths, compared with 5.5% of non-Indigenous deaths attributed to External causes. Of those Indigenous deaths due to External causes, 71% were male and 29% were female. The median age at death for External causes was 33.7 years for Indigenous people and 52.3 years for non-Indigenous people.
Land transport accidents (V01-V89) accounted for 25% (87) of all Indigenous deaths due to External Causes - 65 were males and 25 were females. Suicide (X60-X84, Y87.0) accounted for another 26% (89) of all Indigenous deaths due to External Causes - 72 were males and 17 were females.
2007 causes of death data is subject to revision. This will particularly impact on External causes. See Explanatory Notes 3 - 4 for further information.
Diabetes (E10-E14) was the underlying cause of death for 161 Indigenous deaths, which represents 6.7% of all deaths of Indigenous people in 2007. This is compared with 2.7% of deaths of non-Indigenous people. The median age at death of Indigenous people who died from Diabetes in 2007 was 62.8 years, whereas for non-Indigenous people it was 81.2 years. The sex ratio for Indigenous deaths due to Diabetes was 83 male deaths per 100 female deaths.
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
58 - 65 ), 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 2007, over half (54%) were attributed to Conditions originating in the Perinatal Period (P00-P96). This was a similar proportion compared with non-Indigenous infant deaths (46%).