For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
Statistics presented in Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3303.0) and Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2008 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001) are sourced from deaths registrations administered by the various state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is a legal requirement of each state and territory, that all deaths are registered. Information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. As part of the registration process, information on the cause of death is either supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation.
Death records are provided electronically to the ABS by individual Registrars, on a monthly basis. Each death record contains both demographic data and medical information from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death where available. Information from coronial investigations are provided to the ABS through the National Coroners Information System (NCIS).
For Further Information see: 3317.0.55.002 - Information Paper: ABS Causes of Death Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods.
The ABS causes of death collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS deaths or causes of death statistics. all deaths registered in Australia for the reference year and are received by the ABS by the end of the March quarter of the subsequent year; and
deaths registered prior to the reference year but not previously received from the Registrar nor included in any statistics reported for an earlier period.
From the 2007 reference year, the scope of the collection is:
As an example, records received by the ABS during the March quarter of 2009 which were initially registered in 2008 or prior (but not forwarded to the ABS until 2009) are assigned to the 2008 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2008 which are received by the ABS after the end of the March quarter are assigned to the 2009 reference year.
Up to and including the 2006 issue of Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0), the scope for each reference year of the Death Registrations collection included:
all deaths registered in Australia for the reference year and received by the ABS in the reference year;
deaths registered during the two years prior to the reference year but not received by the ABS until the reference year; and
deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year.
Under these rules, it was possible for a death registration to not be recorded in the collection if it had been registered more than two years before the record was received by the ABS. The scope was changed for the 2007 reference year to ensure all registrations were included in ABS collections.
Data in the Causes of Death collection include demographic items, as well as Causes of Death information, which is coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of cause of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The 10th revision of ICD (ICD-10) is used for the 2008 data.
Causes of Death data are published annually and released within 15 months of the end of the reference period. For example, 2008 Causes of Death data are released on 17 March 2009.
Causes of Death, Doctor Certified Deaths are published annually and released within 11 months of the reference period. For example, 2008 data are released on 27 November 2009.
Causes of death statistics are released with a view to ensuring that they are fit for purpose when released. To meet user requirements for timely data it is often necessary to obtain information from the administrative source before all information for the reference period is available (e.g. finalisation of coronial proceedings). A balance needs to be maintained between accuracy (completeness) of data and timeliness, taking account of the different needs of users.
Non-sample errors are the main influence on accuracy in datasets such as this which are a complete census of the population rather than a sample. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are: mis-reporting of data items; deficiencies in coverage; non-response to particular questions; and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, the careful design of forms, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.
Use of the supporting documentation released with the statistics is important for assessing coherence within the dataset and when comparing the statistics with data from other sources. Changing business rules over time and/or across data sources can affect consistency and hence interpretability of statistical output. The Explanatory Notes in each issue contains information pertinent to this particular release which may impact on comparison over time.
Information on some aspects of statistical quality may be hard to obtain as information on the source data has not been kept over time. This is related to the issue of the administrative rather than statistical purpose of the collection of the source data.
The Causes of Death and Causes of Death, Doctor Certified Deaths publications contain detailed Explanatory Notes, Appendices and Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
In addition to the information provided in this publication, a series of data cubes are also available providing detailed breakdowns by Causes of Death. The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act (1905). This may restrict access to data at a very detailed level which is sought by some users.
If the information you require is not available from the publication or the data cubes, then the ABS may also have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Unit record data for this collection may also be available on request, provisional on release by the relevant state/territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Inquires should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.