Standardised death rates (SDRs) enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures by relating them to a standard population. The current standard population is all persons in the Australian population at 30 June 2001. SDRs are expressed per 1,000 or per 100,000 persons.
For large populations with reliable age-specific death rates, the direct method of calculating SDRs is used. The SDR is the overall death rate that would have prevailed in the standard population if it had experienced at each age, the death rates of the population under study.
For smaller populations where age-specific death rates are unknown or unreliable, the indirect method of calculation is used. The SDR is an adjustment to the crude death rate (number of deaths per 1,000 of the estimated resident population) to account for the variation between the actual number of deaths in the population under study and the number of deaths that would have occurred if the population under study had experienced the age-specific death rates of the standard population.
Age-specific death rates are calculated using the number of deaths (occurring or registered) during the calendar year at a specified age per 1,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age at the mid-point of the year (30 June).
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