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3238.0.55.003 - Information Paper: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Demographic Statistics Work Program and Release Plans, Apr 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2012  First Issue
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Life Tables and Life Expectancy Estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population

The final Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates for 30 June 2011 will form the population base (or denominator) for the compilation of life tables and life expectancy at birth estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. These life tables and life expectancy estimates will be released in late 2013 in Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2010—2012 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003).

The ABS will repeat the Census Data Enhancement Indigenous Mortality linkage study (as done for the 2006 Census) following the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. This study will link data from the 2011 Census to death registrations from August 2011 to August 2012. Census to death registration data (both linked and unlinked) will be analysed by the ABS to derive life tables for 2010-2012 on a comparable basis to 2005-2007 life tables. This is to ensure the life tables are directly comparable to those compiled from the last census, enabling direct analysis. Further information can be found in the publication Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement - Indigenous Mortality Quality Study, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4723.0).

Due to the small size of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, these jurisdictions record small numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths annually (around 90, 135, 25 and 10 deaths per year on average for 2005-2007 respectively). The small number of deaths has inherent issues such as large year on year variation which contributes to uncertainty in the measurement of age specific death rates by sex required for compiling life tables and life expectancy estimates. The current volatility in the number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in these jurisdictions means that the data do not provide a clear picture of what is happening with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality.

ABS produces abridged life tables (i.e. by five year age groups) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. For abridged life tables with an upper age group of 85 years and over, there are 19 age groups in total. Disaggregating the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory by age and sex results in extremely small numbers of deaths, and hence unreliable death rates, for any age group and sex. For this reason it is not possible to produce life tables for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations of these jurisdictions.

Once the 2011 Census to deaths linked data are available, the ABS plans to initiate a project aimed at determining the feasibility of producing life tables and life expectancy estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population by additional geographies. These will include Northern Australia and South East Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory, plus parts of NSW). For South Australia, ABS will consider a number of options, including:

  • using aggregated mortality data over an increased number of years (5-7 years);
  • using age-specific deaths rates for persons aged 15 years and under from another jurisdiction with sufficient numbers, while using South Australian data for the remaining ages.

ABS will discuss these options with key stakeholders such as the National Indigenous Reform Agreement Performance Information Management Group (NIRAPIMG) and the ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Demographic Statistics Expert Advisory Group (ATSIDSEAG) to explore the viability of these and any alternative options.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life tables, life expectancy estimates and associated publications will no longer be referred to as "Experimental" after receiving feedback from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, data users and other stakeholders.

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