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3302.0.55.003 - Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/05/2009   
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    May 25, 2009
    Embargoed 11.30 am (AEST)

New estimates of Indigenous life expectancy released : ABS

Life expectancy at birth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians was 67.2 years for men and 72.9 years for women for 2005–2007, according to experimental figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS reported that the life expectancy of Indigenous men is 11.5 years lower than for non-Indigenous men, while life expectancy of Indigenous women is 9.7 years lower than for non-Indigenous women.

In releasing the data today, the ABS noted that the life expectancy estimates were derived using a new method which drew on information from the ABS Indigenous Mortality Quality Study conducted in 2006-07 as part of the Census Data Enhancement Project. The availability of that information considerably improved the quality and robustness of the estimates. Previously published Indigenous life expectancy estimates had been derived using methods based on a range of assumptions and those estimates were very sensitive to the assumptions made.

Australian Statistician Brian Pink said "The ABS has made significant improvements to statistics about a matter of national concern," but he warned, "due to the considerable methodological changes, the current estimates can’t be compared with the previously published 1996-2001 life expectancy estimates and the differences in the estimates should not be interpreted as changes in Indigenous life expectancy over time".

At the state/territory level, estimates could only be compiled for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory. Of these New South Wales had the highest life expectancy for Indigenous men (69.9 years) and women (75.0 years). The Northern Territory had the lowest life expectancy for Indigenous men (61.5 years) and women (69.2 years).

Further details are available in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003).

Media Notes-

Life expectancy at birth refers to the average number of years a group of new-born babies could expect to live, if they experienced the 2005–2007 death rates throughout their lifetimes. This does not equate to how long any one person or group of persons will actually live, as life expectancy is calculated using current death rates and does not account for any future changes in death rates.

Please ensure when reporting on ABS data that you attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.

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