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3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2008 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/11/2009   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains statistics for deaths and mortality in Australia. Detailed information can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) available for download from the ABS website (see paragraph 56).

2 A glossary is provided detailing definitions of terminology used. Also provided is a list of abbreviations.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

3 The statistics in this publication relate to the number of deaths registered during the calendar year shown, unless otherwise stated. Statistics relating to deaths by year of occurrence can be obtained from data cubes available for download from the ABS website (see paragraph 56).


Scope of death statistics

4 The ABS Death Registrations collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose place of 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 statistics.

5 The scope of the statistics includes:

  • all deaths being registered for the first time;
  • deaths of temporary visitors to Australia (including visitors from Norfolk Island);
  • deaths occurring within Australian Territorial waters;
  • deaths occurring in Australian Antarctic Territories or other external territories (excluding Norfolk Island);
  • deaths occurring in transit (i.e. deaths on ships or planes) if registered in the state of 'next port of call';
  • deaths of Australian nationals employed overseas at legations and consular offices (i.e. deaths of Australian diplomats while overseas) where able to be identified; and
  • deaths that occurred in earlier years that have not previously been registered (late registrations).

6 The scope of the statistics excludes:
  • still births/fetal deaths (these are accounted for in perinatal death statistics published in Perinatal Deaths, Australia, cat. no. 3304.0, and previously, Causes of Death, Australia, cat. no. 3303.0);
  • repatriation of human remains of decedents whose death occurred overseas;
  • deaths overseas of foreign diplomatic staff (where these are able to be identified); and
  • deaths occurring on Norfolk Island.

7 Up to and including the 2006 issue of Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0), 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.

8 For example, death records received by the ABS during the March quarter 2007 which were initially registered in 2006 (but not fully completed until 2007) were assigned to the 2006 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2006 which were received by the ABS after the end of the March quarter 2007 were assigned to the 2007 reference year.

9 Under these rules, it was possible for a death registration to not be recorded in the collection. For 2007 onwards, the scope of the Death Registrations collection has been reviewed and amended. The scope now includes:
  • all deaths registered in Australia for the reference year and received by the ABS in the reference year;
  • deaths registered in the years prior to the reference year but not received by ABS until the reference year or the first quarter of the subsequent year, provided that these records have not been included in any statistics from earlier periods; and
  • deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year.


Coverage of death statistics

10 Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of events (deaths) should be recorded as all those occurring within a given reference period such as a calendar year. Due to lags in registration of deaths and the provision of that information to the ABS from state/territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, data in this publication are presented on a year of registration basis.

11 In effect there are three dates attributable to each death registration:
  • the date of occurrence (of the death);
  • the date of registration or inclusion on the state/territory register; and
  • the month in which the registered event is provided to the ABS.


CLASSIFICATIONS

Marital status

12 Marital status relates to the registered marital status of the deceased at the time of death, which refers to formally registered marriages or divorces for which a certificate is held.

13 From 2007 onwards, marital status at death is provided by registries as legal marital status. Previously, a mix of legal and social marital status was used by some states and territories.


Australian Standard Geographical Classification

14 The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is a hierarchical classification system consisting of six interrelated classification structures. The ASGC provides a common framework of statistical geography and thereby enables the production of statistics which are comparable and can be spatially integrated.

15 For further information refer to Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0).


Standard Australian Classification of Countries

16 The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (Second Edition) groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographical areas on the basis of their similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics. The SACC (Second Edition) is the revised edition of the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS) and includes concordances between the SACC (First Edition) and the SACC (Second Edition).

17 For further information refer to Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).


DATA SOURCES

18 Registration of deaths is the responsibility of state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Information about the deceased is acquired from a Death Registration Form (DRF) which is completed by the funeral director, based on information 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 (MCCD), or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation. This information is provided to the ABS by individual Registrars for coding and compilation into aggregate statistics shown in this publication.


State and territory data

19 As a result of an amendment made in 1992 to section 17(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1973 (Cwlth) the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included as part of geographic Australia, hence another category of the state and territory classification has been created. This category is known as 'Other Territories' and includes Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory.

20 Prior to 1993, deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands were included with Off-Shore Areas and Migratory in Western Australia, while deaths of persons usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory were included with the Australian Capital Territory.

21 In 2008 there were 7 deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory.

22 Death statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented in respect of the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occured and was registered, except where otherwise stated.

23 In the following table data are presented on a state or territory of registration basis. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics. Deaths of persons who were usual residents of Australia's Other Territories (Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory) are registered in other Australian states.

DEATHS, State or territory of usual residence and state or territory of registration - 2008

STATE OR TERRITORY OF REGISTRATION
State or territory of usual residence
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

NSW
47 819
219
407
46
18
np
np
260
48 782
Vic.
175
35 187
60
31
27
6
4
7
35 497
Qld
228
27
27 038
8
8
3
12
11
27 335
SA
26
34
13
12 518
7
3
12
3
12 616
WA
19
15
19
np
12 670
-
17
np
12 752
Tas.
9
23
7
np
np
4 171
np
np
4 219
NT
4
6
7
27
9
-
988
-
1 041
ACT
43
3
3
-
np
np
-
1 646
1 697
Aust.(a)
48 325
35 514
27 554
12 642
12 749
4 190
1 041
1 931
143 946

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Includes Other Territories.


24 In 2008 there were 310 deaths registered in Australia of persons usually resident overseas. These have been included in this publication with state and territory of usual residence classified according to the state or territory in which the death was registered.

Deaths, Persons usually resident overseas

State or territory of registration
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

NSW
139
100
98
100
92
95
106
Vic
50
48
56
33
50
46
54
Qld
92
109
81
77
88
83
73
SA
18
19
16
12
8
13
13
WA
47
44
40
46
60
50
45
Tas.
np
10
5
7
6
6
3
NT
13
6
6
12
11
13
13
ACT
np
-
5
4
4
9
3
Aust.
363
336
307
291
319
315
310

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated



Sub-state/territory mortality rates

25 Indirect standardised death rates for sub-state/territory regions (for example, Statistical Divisions) presented in this publication are calculated as average rates over three years ending in the reference year. Rates for Australia and the states and territories in all other tables are based on single years of death registration data.


DATA QUALITY

26 In compiling death statistics, the ABS employs a variety of measures to improve the quality of the deaths collection. While every opportunity is undertaken to ensure that the highest quality of statistics are provided, the following are known issues associated with the quality of deaths statistics included in this publication.

27 For the most part, statistics in this publication refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a death (referred to as a registration 'lag') and as a result, some deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay in the submission of a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the death.

DEATHS REGISTERED IN 2008, Year of occurrence - Selected years

STATE OR TERRITORY OF REGISTRATION
Year of occurrence
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

2002 or earlier
5
33
np
-
16
4
np
-
62
2003
np
np
-
-
-
-
-
-
5
2004
np
np
np
np
np
np
np
-
17
2005
np
33
5
np
-
-
3
-
43
2006
11
39
8
np
np
np
3
-
77
2007
2 262
2 392
2 372
461
641
224
105
122
8 579
2008
46 043
33 004
25 164
12 178
12 077
3 960
928
1 809
135 163
Total(a)
48 325
35 514
27 554
12 642
12 749
4 190
1 041
1 931
143 946

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Includes not available year of occurrence.


28 Of the 143,900 deaths registered in 2008, 93.9% occurred in 2008 while 6.0% occurred in 2007 and the remainder (0.1%) occurred in 2006 or earlier years.


Unknown infant age at death

29 For some infant deaths, only limited information on age at death is known. These deaths are included in the following categories:
  • not stated minutes and not stated hours (i.e. age at death was under one day) are included in 'Under one day'
  • not stated days (i.e. age at death was at least one day but under one month) are included in 'One week to under four weeks'
  • not stated months (i.e. age at death was at least one month but under one year) are included in 'Four weeks to under one year'.


Indigenous deaths and mortality rates

30 The term Indigenous is used to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Those who are identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin through the death registration process are classified as Indigenous persons.

31 While it is considered likely that most deaths of Indigenous Australians are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not identified as Indigenous by the family, health worker or funeral director during the death registration process. That is, whilst data is provided to the ABS for the Indigenous status question for 99% of all deaths, there are concerns regarding the accuracy of the data. The Indigenous status question is not always directly asked of relatives and friends of the deceased by the funeral director.

32 This publication includes the number of registered Indigenous deaths. However, because of the data quality issues outlined below, more detailed breakdowns of Indigenous deaths are provided for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory only.

33 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are of Indigenous origin. Due to a number of factors, the results are not always consistent. The likelihood that a person will identify, or be identified, as Indigenous on a specific form is known as their propensity to identify as Indigenous. Propensity to identify as Indigenous can be thought of as the proportion of the total, unknown, number of Indigenous people who identify as such on a specific form.

34 Propensity to identify as Indigenous is determined by a range of factors, including how the information is collected; who completes the form; the perception of how the information will be used; education programs about identifying as Indigenous; and cultural issues associated with identifying as Indigenous.

35 In addition to those deaths identified as Indigenous, a number of deaths occur each year where Indigenous status is not stated on the death registration form. In 2008 there were 1,800 deaths registered in Australia for whom Indigenous status was not stated, representing 1.3% of all deaths registered.

36 Quality studies conducted as part of the Census Data Enhancement project have investigated the levels and consistency of Indigenous identification between death registrations and the 2006 Census. See Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement - Indigenous Mortality Quality Study, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4723.0).


Indigenous life tables

37 Life tables for the Indigenous population for the period 2005 to 2007 were published in May 2009 in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003).

38 Estimates of life expectancy at birth for the total population presented in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) differ from estimates published in Deaths, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0). Estimates presented in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) are derived from abridged life tables with an upper age limit of 85 years and over, using numbers of deaths registered in 2005-2007 and the population as at 30 June 2006, while life expectancy estimates in Deaths, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0) are based on complete life tables with an upper age group of 115 years and over, using deaths according to month of occurrence in 2005-2007 and quarterly population estimates. In addition, graduation processes applied to both sets of life tables differ. See paragraphs 41 to 44 for more information on life tables.


LIFE TABLES

39 A life table is a statistical model used to represent mortality of a population. In its simplest form, a life table is generated from age-specific death rates and the resulting values are used to measure mortality, survivorship and life expectancy.

40 The life tables in this publication are current or period life tables, based on death rates for a short period of time during which mortality has remained much the same. Mortality rates for the Australian and state and territory life tables are based on death registrations and estimated resident population for the period 2006-2008. The life tables do not take into account future assumed improvements in mortality.

41 Life tables are presented separately for males and females. The life table depicts the mortality experience of a hypothetical group of newborn babies throughout their entire lifetime. It is based on the assumption that this group is subject to the age-specific mortality rates of the reference period. Typically this hypothetical group is 100,000 in size.

42 To construct a life table, data on population, deaths and births are needed. Mortality rates are smoothed to avoid fluctuations in the data. Apart from mortality rates themselves (qx) all other functions of the life table are derived from qx. The life tables presented in this publication contain four columns of interrelated information. These functions are:
  • lx - the number of persons surviving to exact age x;
  • qx - the proportion of persons dying between exact age x and exact age x+1. It is the mortality rate, from which other functions of the life table are derived;
  • Lx - the number of person years lived within the age interval x to x+1; and
  • ex - life expectancy at exact age x.


Life tables based on assumed improvements in mortality

43 Life tables based on assumed improvements in mortality are produced by the ABS using assumptions on future life expectancy at birth, based on recent trends in life expectancy. Mortality rates derived from these life tables are used as inputs to ABS population projections. For further information see Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).


Australian life tables

44 The 2006-2008 life tables differ from those published prior to the 1995 edition of this publication in a number of important respects. Firstly, they are based on three years of death registrations and estimated resident population data. This is designed to reduce the impact of year-to-year statistical variations, particularly at younger ages where there are small numbers of deaths and at very old ages where the population at risk is small. Secondly, the deaths and population data are based on Australian residents who are physically present in Australia over the three-year period; i.e. Australian residents temporarily overseas are excluded. Thirdly, they have been actuarially graduated on the same principles which are used for the quinquennial Australian life tables prepared by the Australian Government Actuary.


State and territory life tables

45 Life tables for the states and territories are produced on the same principles as the Australian life tables. For the years 1994-1996 to 1999-2001 these are available in the Demography (cat. nos. 3311.1-3311.8) set of publications. State and territory life tables for the period 2000-2002 are available on request. State and territory life tables for the period 2001-2003 and onwards are published in Life Tables (cat. nos. 3302.1.55.001-3302.8.55.001). Note that the release of state/territory life tables for 2006-2008 has been deferred until 11th December 2009.


Statistical Division life tables

46 Due to the deferral of release of state/territory life tables, estimates of life expectancy at birth for Statistical Divisions for 2008 are not yet available. It is expected that these will be available in late February 2010.

47 Life expectancy at birth for Statistical Divisions have been calculated with reference to state and territory life tables, using Brass' Logit System. Small area life tables are based on age-specific death rates for each area, some of which may be zero as no deaths were recorded at those ages. Brass' Logit technique enables the calculation of smooth abridged life tables for regions which have defective age-specific death rates, by adjusting them with reference to a standard life table. The technique does not alter the overall level of mortality, but the age-specific functions of the life table are smoothed.

48 The Brass' Logit technique essentially compares mortality between the regional and standard life tables across ages, then a line of best fit is calculated to describe that relationship by age. The line of best fit is then used in conjunction with the standard life table to determine death rates for the small area life table. For a more detailed description of Brass' Logit System refer to Brass (1975) Methods for Estimating Fertility and Mortality from Limited and Defective data.


CAUSES OF DEATH

49 Causes of death information is published under the 3303.0 product family. See Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2008 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001) scheduled for release on 27 November 2009, and Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3303.0) scheduled for release in March 2010, for more information.


CONFIDENTIALITY

50 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.

51 Where necessary, tables in this publication have had small values suppressed or randomised to protect confidentiality. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals.


ROUNDING

52 Calculations as shown in the commentary sections of this publication are based on unrounded figures. Calculations using rounded figures may differ from those published. Where figures have been rounded in tables, discrepancies may occur between sums of component item and totals.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

53 The ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


RELATED PRODUCTS

54 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users include:
55 ABS products and publications are available free of charge from the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>. Click on Statistics to gain access to the full range of ABS statistical and reference information. For details on products scheduled for release in the coming week, click on the Future Releases link on the ABS homepage.


ADDITIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE

56 More detailed deaths and mortality statistics can be obtained from data cubes available for download from the ABS website in Deaths, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3302.0):
  • Table 1: Deaths, Summary, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 2: Death rates, Summary, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 3: Life expectancy, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 4: Deaths, Summary, Statistical Divisions, 2003 to 2008
  • Table 5: Deaths, Summary, Statistical Local Areas, 2003 to 2008
  • Table 6: Deaths, Summary, Local Government Areas, 2003 to 2008
  • Table 7: Deaths, Age at death, Marital status, Australia, 2008
  • Table 8: Deaths, Country of birth, Australia, 2008
  • Table 9: Infant deaths, Age at death, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 10: Deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 11: Median age at death, Year of occurrence, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 12: Deaths, Year and month of occurrence, Australia, states and territories, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 13: Infant deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, Australia, 1998 to 2008
  • Table 14: Infant deaths, Year and month of occurrence, Australia, states and territories, 2006 to 2008
  • Table 15: Deaths, Indigenous status, Australia, states and territories, 1991 to 2008
  • Table 16: Median age at death, Indigenous status, Selected states and territories, 1991 to 2008
  • Table 17: Infant mortality rates, Indigenous status, Selected states and territories, 1991 to 2008

57 For additional articles on deaths (including causes of death) and mortality published by the ABS, see Appendix: Feature Articles List.

58 The ABS can also make available information which is not published. See Appendix: Characteristics Available for the characteristics processed by the ABS related to registered deaths. A charge is applied for providing this information.

59 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

60 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details the products to be released in the week ahead.


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