Australian Bureau of Statistics
3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2009 Quality Declaration
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/11/2010
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REGISTERED DEATHS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS
The level of identification can therefore vary across collections and over time.
As part of the 2006 Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project, the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study was conducted to estimate the extent of under or over-identification of Indigenous status in death registrations compared with the Census. The study involved linking death registrations (for 9 August 2006 to 30 June 2007) to 2006 Census of Population and Housing records, and comparing Indigenous status as recorded in the two collections. The ABS used the linked data, as well as information from the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES), to develop a new method for adjusting the number of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for compiling life tables. This method has two key features. First, the use of linked data enabled direct comparison of Indigenous status recorded on the 2006 Census and death registration form. Second, by aligning the death registrations data to the population estimates derived from the 2006 Census and PES, the method ensures consistency between the numerator (that is, estimates of deaths) and the denominator (estimates of population at risk). For more information see Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 (cat no. 3302.0.55.002) and Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat no. 3302.0.55.003);
In addition to the factors calculated for adjusting registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian deaths for input into the experimental life tables, a range of other measures of identification were also derived from the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study. For more information see Experimental Life tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) and Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement - Indigenous Mortality Quality Study, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4723.0).
The ABS continues to work with state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and other stakeholders to improve the level of identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the death registrations system in each jurisdiction. The increased numbers of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians recorded in recent years is partly due to substantial improvements in the completeness of the data.
As shown in table 3.1, improvements in the completeness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian deaths data for Australia overall in the late 1990s were largely driven by improvements for Queensland and New South Wales. Queensland began to register deaths as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian in 1996. In New South Wales, the number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian deaths increased in 1998 to much higher levels than previous years. The numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian deaths registered in South Australia and the Northern Territory have remained relatively constant since 1997, suggesting that identification has been relatively stable in these jurisdictions. There are ongoing ABS investigations into the unusual volatility in the number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians registered in Western Australia in recent years.
An examination of the effect of data quality issues on the interpretation of trends in these data can be found in The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008 (cat. no. 4704.0).
Indigenous status on Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
From 2007 onwards, Indigenous status for deaths registered in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory is sourced from both the Death Registration Form (DRF) and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). Prior to 2007, Indigenous status was sourced from the DRF only. As a result of this change, there were an additional 22 deaths recorded as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian in 2009, representing a 0.9% increase in the number of deaths recorded as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for Australia overall. In addition, a further 567 records were reclassified from 'not stated' Indigenous status to 'non-Indigenous'.
The standard Indigenous status question
All states and territories include a question on the death registration form regarding the Indigenous status of the deceased, which must be lodged with the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. However, some jurisdictions have had a longer history of recording the Indigenous status of deaths than others. It has only been since the mid to late 1990s that a uniform system of identifying all deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Australia has been established. The current question for all states and territories (excepting Victoria and the Northern Territory) asks:
"Was the deceased of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"
(If of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, tick both 'yes' boxes.)
Victoria and the Northern Territory ask:
"Was the deceased of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"
Not stated responses
In addition to those deaths identified as being persons of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, a number of deaths occur each year for which Indigenous status is not stated on the death registration form (table 3.2). In 2009, there were 1,500 deaths registered in Australia for which Indigenous status was not stated, representing 1.1% of all deaths registered. Queensland had the highest proportion of not stated responses in 2009 (2.9%), followed by New South Wales and Western Australia (both 0.8%).
For some states and territories, including Victoria and Queensland, the number of deaths registered for which Indigenous status was not stated was greater than the number of deaths registered as Indigenous.
As a proportion of all deaths registered, deaths for which Indigenous status was not stated decreased from 1.3% in 2008 to 1.1% in 2009. This was largely due to a decrease in the number of deaths in Victoria and New South Wales for which Indigenous status was not stated.
In July 2010, the ACT Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages undertook to follow-up registration forms where there was a 'not stated' response to the Indigenous status question. This process led to a significant decrease in Indigenous 'not stated' status observed for the Australian Capital Territory.
It is worth noting that the number of deaths in 2009 for which Indigenous status was not stated (1,500) is of a similar magnitude to the total number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (2,400). Despite the relatively low proportion of deaths with unidentified Indigenous status (1.1%), it is likely that some of these were deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to under-identification deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
This page last updated 9 November 2011
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