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3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/11/2013   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This release contains statistics for deaths and mortality in Australia. Detailed information can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) available electronically from the Downloads from the ABS website (see paragraph 61).

2 A glossary is provided detailing definitions of terminology used. A list of abbreviations is also available.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

3 Statistics in this release 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 released in association with this product, available for download from the ABS website.


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 was overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS death 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 that occurred within Australian Territorial waters;
  • deaths that occurred in Australian Antarctic Territories or other external territories (excluding Norfolk Island);
  • deaths that occurred in transit (i.e. on ships or planes) if registered in the Australian state or territory of 'next port of call';
  • deaths of Australian nationals employed overseas at Australian 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 of foreign diplomatic staff in Australia (where able to be identified); and
  • deaths occurring on Norfolk Island.

7 The scope for each reference year of the Death Registrations collection includes:
  • deaths registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the reference year;
  • deaths registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year; and
  • 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.

8 Death records received by ABS during the March quarter 2013 which were registered in 2012 (but not fully completed until 2013) were assigned to the 2012 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2012 which were received by ABS from April 2013 were assigned to the 2013 reference year.

9 Prior to 2007, the scope for the reference year of the Death Registrations collection included:
  • deaths registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the reference year;
  • deaths registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year; and
  • deaths registered during the two years prior to the reference year but not received by ABS until the reference 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 and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, data in this release 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 and year 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 and refers to formally registered marriages or divorces for which a certificate is held.

13 From 2007 onwards, the categories of separated but not divorced and marital status not stated are also included in total deaths.


Geography

14 This issue of Deaths, Australia includes data cubes containing death and mortality statistics on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC).

15 For further information, refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001) and Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (cat. no. 1269.0).


DATA SOURCES

16 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 release.


State and territory data

17 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.

18 Prior to 1993, deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island or 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. In 2012, there were 4 deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or Jervis Bay Territory.

19 Death statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented according to the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occurred and was registered, except where otherwise stated. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics.

20 In the following table, data are presented on both a state or territory of registration and usual residence 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 - 2012

State or territory of registration
State or territory of usual residence
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

NSW
48 361
208
408
36
22
7
5
267
49 314
Vic.
143
35 480
64
35
11
8
10
9
35 760
Qld
194
42
28 024
np
17
np
11
6
28 300
SA
12
23
12
13 108
4
np
15
np
13 178
WA
10
11
10
11
13 279
np
13
np
13 339
Tas.
9
19
5
np
np
4 422
-
-
4 459
NT
4
np
10
19
6
-
996
np
1 038
ACT
48
np
-
np
np
np
3
1 649
1 706
Aust.(a)
48 781
35 788
28 533
13 215
13 347
4 444
1 053
1 937
147 098

- 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.


21 In 2012, there were 320 deaths registered in Australia of persons who usually lived overseas. These have been included in this release 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 - 2006 to 2012

State or territory of registration
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

NSW
90
95
115
87
89
90
86
Vic.
52
45
48
48
53
49
57
Qld
87
85
72
87
93
64
85
SA
8
13
13
4
13
11
17
WA
61
50
43
49
38
82
61
Tas.
7
5
3
8
4
np
5
NT
10
12
13
8
12
12
5
ACT
4
10
3
4
4
np
4
Aust.
319
315
310
295
306
315
320

np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated



Sub-state/territory mortality rates

22 Standardised death rates (SDRs) for sub-state/territory regions (for example, Statistical Area Level 4) presented in accompanying spreadsheets are, with the exception of Table 20, average rates for three years ending in the reference year. For Table 20: Deaths, Indigenous status, Summary, Remoteness Areas, Selected states and territories, 2011 SDRs are based on single years of death registration data.

23 Rates for Australia and the states and territories in all other tables are based on single years of death registration data.


DATA QUALITY

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


Interval between occurrence and registration of deaths

25 For the most part, statistics in this release 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 which occur in November and December are also likely to be registered in the following year.

DEATHS REGISTERED IN 2012, Year of occurrence(%) - Selected years

State or Territory of registration
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.

2009 and earlier
-
0.1
0.4
np
0.1
np
0.3
-
0.1
2010
-
-
0.2
np
-
np
0.4
-
0.1
2011
3.8
6.2
5.8
3.8
4.3
4.1
17.5
5.1
4.9
2012
96.2
93.7
93.6
96.0
95.6
95.7
81.9
94.9
94.9

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


26 Of the 147,098 deaths registered in Australia in 2012, 94.9% occurred in 2012, while 4.9% occurred in 2011 and the remainder (0.2%) occurred in 2010 or earlier years.


Unknown infant age at death

27 For some infant deaths, only limited information for 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'; and
  • 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'.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and mortality rates

28 The ABS Death Registrations collection identifies a death as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander where the deceased is recorded as an Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both through the death registration process.

29 While it is considered likely that most deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not reported as such by the family, health worker or funeral director during the death registration process. That is, whilst data are provided to the ABS for the Indigenous status question for 99.2% of all deaths, there are concerns regarding the accuracy of the data. The Indigenous status question may not always be directly asked of relatives and friends of the deceased by the funeral director.

30 This release includes the number of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for all jurisdictions. However, due to the data quality issues outlined below, detailed disaggregations of death rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are provided only for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The 'total' variable in detailed disaggregations is an aggregation of four states and the Northern Territory.

31 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian. Due to a number of factors, the results are not always consistent. The likelihood that a person will report, or be recorded, as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian on a specific form is known as the propensity to identify.

32 Propensity to identify and be recorded as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian is determined by a range of factors, including:
  • how the information is collected (e.g. census, survey, or administrative data);
  • who provides the information (e.g. the person in question, a relative, a health professional, or an official);
  • the perception of why the information is required, and how it will be used; and
  • cultural aspects and feelings associated with reporting as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian.

33 In addition to those deaths recorded as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, a number of deaths occur each year where Indigenous status is not stated on the death registration form. In 2012, there were 1,169 deaths registered in Australia for whom Indigenous status was not stated, representing 0.8% of all deaths registered.

34 Data presented in this release may therefore underestimate the level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and the reliability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality in Australia. Lags in registrations may also affect reliability of measures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality. Caution should be exercised when interpreting data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians presented in this release, especially with regard to year-to-year changes.

35 Due to the increased focus on the mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, a number of projects have been undertaken to investigate the quality of these data. These include:
  • A Council of Australian Governments (COAG)-funded assessment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians reporting in key data sets, for example, the birth and death registration systems managed by state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • Data integration projects undertaken by several state and territory government departments using health and death records.
  • Finalisation of ABS investigations into the unusual volatility in the number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians registered in Western Australia in the years 2007 to 2009.
  • The December quarter 2010 saw the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages finalise death registrations where there was previously incomplete information. As part of the registration of outstanding deaths initiative, 374 deaths were registered, of which approximately 76% were deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. See Technical Note in the Explanatory Notes tab of Deaths, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3302.0) for more information.
  • The ABS also conducted the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study as part of the Census Data Enhancement Project following the 2006 Census to investigate the consistency of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reporting between death registrations and the 2006 Census. See Information Paper: Death registrations to Census linkage project, 2011-12 - Key findings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (cat. no 3302.0.55.005) - to be released on 15 November 2013.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian life tables

36 Life tables for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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). The 2010-2012 issue of this product is due for release on 15 November 2013.

37 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 120 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 42 to 51 for more information on life tables.


Principles on the use of direct age-standardisation

38 In the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA), the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a set of targets for closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Mortality rates are one of the performance indicators specified in the NIRA to measure progress against this target.

39 Age-standardised rates, along with infant and child mortality rates, are used to determine whether the mortality of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is declining over time and whether the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations is narrowing. However, there were some inconsistencies in the way different government agencies calculated age-standardised rates in the past. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) hosted a workshop on age-standardisation on 19 April 2011 to discuss the best method of age-standardisation (direct or indirect) and to produce a clear set of guidelines specifically for the analysis and reporting of COAG "Closing the Gap" indicators. Workshop participants agreed that the direct method is the preferred method of age-standardisation as it allows for valid comparisons of mortality rates between different study populations and across time. Prior to 2011 some standardised death rates were calculated using the indirect method.

40 The direct method has also been applied to the dissemination of death rates by country of birth from the release of the 2010 issue of this release, replacing the previous indirect standardised death rates. Standardised death rates for countries with less than a total of 20 deaths, or geographies with less than 30 ERP in any one age group are not available for release.

41 For further information, see Appendix: Principles on the use of direct age-standardisation in Deaths, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3302.0)


LIFE TABLES

42 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.

43 Life tables in this release 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 used in the Australian and state and territory life tables are based on death registrations and estimated resident population for the period 2010-2012. The life tables do not take into account future assumed improvements in mortality.

44 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.

45 To construct a life table, data on population, deaths and births are needed. Mortality rates are smoothed to avoid fluctuations in the data. The mortality rate (qx), is the main function of the life table, all other functions are derived from it. The life tables presented in this release 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

46 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. These are not the ABS's official life tables and are only used as inputs to ABS population projections. For further information see Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)


Australian life tables

47 The 2010-2012 national and state/territory life tables have been compiled using the revised ERP based on the 2011 Census data. A small refinement has also been made to the method to bring Australia's mortality rates (qx values) into line with other comparable countries. The impact of these changes in life expectancy at birth estimates is minimal, though caution should be applied when interpreting changes to life tables over time. For more information, see Technical Note 1: The Effect of Rebasing on Estimates of Life Expectancy and Technical Note 2: Improvements to Mortality Estimation at the Highest Ages, 2010-2012.


State and territory life tables

48 Life tables for the states and territories are produced on the same principles as the Australian life tables with the exception of the crude m(x) rate. Crude m(x) rates are graduated using the Australian life table through the application of the Lidstone transformation. This overcomes problems associated with excessive noise in the single year of age rates. In addition, some smoothing and suppression of outliers is often required to achieve reasonable mortality curves with satisfactory goodness-of-fit statistics.

49 State and territory life tables produced by the ABS are available for:
  • 1994-1996 to 1999-2001: published in the Demography set of publications (cat. nos. 3311.1-3311.8);
  • 2000-2002: available on request;
  • 2001-2003 to 2008-2010: published in Life Tables (cat. nos. 3302.1.55.001-3302.8.55.001);
  • 2009-2011 onwards: published in Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001).

Statistical Area Level 4 life tables

50 Life expectancy at birth for Statistical Area Level 4s have been calculated with reference to state and territory life tables, using the Brass' Logit System. Small area life tables are based on age-specific death rates for each area, some of which may be zero where no deaths are recorded at these ages. The 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.

51 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 The Brass' Logit System, refer to Brass (1975) Methods for Estimating Fertility and Mortality from Limited and Defective data.


CAUSES OF DEATH

52 Causes of death information is published under the 3303.0 product family. For more information see Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001), and Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).


CONFIDENTIALITY

53 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.

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


ROUNDING

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

56 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.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

57 The ABS' releases draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. The efforts of Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages to improve the data quality, coverage and timeliness of death registration information, processes and systems are noted and valued by the ABS. 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

58 Other ABS products which may be of interest to users include:
59 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.


ADDITIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE

60 More detailed death and mortality statistics can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft excel format) available for download from the ABS website.

61 Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0)
  • Table 1: Deaths, Summary, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 2: Death rates, Summary, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 3: Life expectancy, Selected ages, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 4: Deaths, Summary, Statistical Area Level 4, 2006 to 2012
  • Table 5: Deaths, Summary, Statistical Area Level 2, 2001 to 2012
  • Table 6: Deaths, Summary, Local Government Areas, 2001 to 2012
  • Table 7: Deaths, Summary, Remoteness Areas, 2001 to 2012
  • Table 8: Deaths, Age at death, Marital status, Australia, 2012
  • Table 9: Deaths, Country of birth, Australia, 2012
  • Table 10: Infant deaths and Infant mortality rates, Age at death, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 11: Deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 12: Median age at death, Year of occurrence, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 13: Deaths, Year and month of occurrence, States and territories, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 14: Infant deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, Australia, 2002 to 2012
  • Table 15: Infant deaths, Year and month of occurrence, States and territories, 2010 to 2012
  • Table 16: Deaths, Indigenous status, States and territories, 1991 to 2012
  • Table 17: Median age at death, Indigenous status, Selected states and territories, 1991 to 2012
  • Table 18: Infant mortality rates, Indigenous status, Selected states and territories, 1991 to 2012
  • Table 19: Age-specific death rates, Indigenous status, Selected states and territories, 2008-2012
  • Table 20: Deaths, Indigenous status, Summary, Remoteness Areas, Selected states and territories, 2011

62 Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001)

63 Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)
  • Table 1: Population, Size and Growth
  • Table 2: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population
  • Table 6: Deaths
  • Table 7: Life tables
64 For additional articles on deaths (including causes of death) and mortality published by the ABS, see Appendix: Features articles list. This is available from the Explanatory Notes tab of this release.

65 As well as the statistics included in this and related releases, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 130 135 070.

66 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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