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3303.0.55.001 - Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/11/2013  Final
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Contents >> Overview


Deaths in Australia can be categorised as deaths that are certified by either a medical practitioner (doctor certified) or a coroner. Deaths which are certified by a doctor are usually the result of natural causes, such as cancer or circulatory diseases, while coroners certify the majority of deaths which occur by unknown and external causes, such as transport accidents.

This publication contains summary information on the causes of death for deaths certified by a doctor in Australia in the 2012 reference year.

Deaths which were certified by a doctor made up 88.3% of all deaths in 2012. The remaining 11.7% of deaths were reported to, and certified by, a coroner.

All deaths have been coded using the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) as released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The proportion of deaths certified by a doctor varies according to cause of death. For example, deaths classified to Chapter II Neoplasms (C00-D48) and Chapter IX Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99) have a higher proportion of deaths certified by doctors than by coroners. In 2012, doctor-certified deaths classified to these chapters accounted for a 33.1% and 29.8% of all doctor-certified deaths respectively.

In contrast, a much lower proportion of deaths classified to Chapter XVIII (Ill-defined causes) and Chapter XX (External causes) are certified by doctors. In 2012, deaths coded to these chapters accounted for only 0.3% and 1.2% of total doctor certified deaths respectively (see Table 2). Given the low number of deaths certified by a doctor for these particular causes and that the focus of this publication is doctor-certified deaths, ill-defined and external causes of death are not presented in detail in this publication.

Information concerning all deaths, both doctor and coroner certified, will be published in Causes of Death, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3303.0), which is due for release in 2014.


There were 147,098 deaths in Australia in the 2012 reference year. This was 166 (0.1%) more than the number of deaths registered in 2011 (146,932). The standardised death rate (SDR) was 5.5 deaths for every 1,000 people in Australia in 2012. This is slightly lower than the standardised death rate in 2011 (5.7 deaths per 1,000 population) and continues the general decline in the standardised death rate over the past decade from 6.8 deaths per 1,000 people in 2002. See Explanatory Note 35 for further information on standardised death rates.

Males accounted for 74,794 (50.8%) deaths in 2012 and females accounted for the remaining 72,304 deaths (49.2%). The sex ratio, that is, the number of deaths of males per 100 deaths of females, has gradually declined over the past decade, down from 106.2 in 2002 to 103.4 in 2012.

Further details on numbers of deaths registered can be found in Deaths, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 3302.0).


There were 129,956 deaths certified by a doctor in 2012, representing 88.3% of all deaths which occurred in that year. The remaining 11.7% were certified by a coroner.

Males accounted for 63,467 (48.8%) of all doctor certified deaths registered in 2012, while females accounted for the remaining 66,489 (51.2%). In contrast, males accounted for a higher proportion of coroner certified deaths (11,327 or 66.1%) compared to females (5,815 or 33.9%). The median age at death for doctor certified deaths registered in 2012 was 83.0 years, whereas the median age at death for coroner certified deaths registered in 2012 was substantially lower at 59.9 years (see Table 3).

Doctor Certified Deaths by State and Territory

The proportion of deaths certified by a doctor varies between states and territories, as can be seen in Table 1. In 2012, the Northern Territory had the lowest proportion of deaths certified by a doctor at 68.8%. In contrast, 90.7% of deaths in New South Wales were certified by a doctor, the highest proportion in Australia. The proportions for all states and territories in 2012 were comparable with the proportions in 2011.

Table 1. Deaths, by Certifier type, State and territory of usual residence, 2012(a)


44 722
4 592
49 314
31 734
4 026
35 760
24 961
3 339
28 300
11 012
2 166
13 178
11 325
2 014
13 339
4 041
4 459
1 038
1 443
1 706
129 956
17 142
147 098

(a) Data cells with small values have been randomly assigned to protect the confidentiality of individuals. As a result, some totals will not equal the sum of their components. Cells with a zero value have not been affected by confidentialisation.
(b) Coroner certified deaths data for 2012 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 29-33 and Technical Notes: Causes of Death Revisions, 2009 and 2010, Causes of Death, Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 3303.0).
(c) Includes Other territories.

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