Australian Bureau of Statistics
3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2010 Quality Declaration
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/11/2011
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REGISTERED DEATHS OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS
The level of reporting and recording can vary across collections and over time.
Further, administrative processes, including the data capture and processing of death registration records, can lead to incorrect recording of Indigenous status in statistical data provided to the ABS. The ABS is aware that some deaths may take several years to be registered (see Explanatory Note 26).
As part of the 2006 Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project, the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study was conducted to estimate the extent of under or over-identification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in death registrations compared with the Census. The study involved linking death registrations (for 9 August 2006 to 30 June 2007) to 2006 Census of Population and Housing records, and comparing Indigenous status as recorded in the two collections. The ABS used the linked data, as well as information from the 2006 Census Post Enumeration Survey (PES), to develop a new method for adjusting the number of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for compiling life tables.
This method has two key features. First, the use of linked data enabled direct comparison of Indigenous status recorded on the 2006 Census and death registration form. Second, by aligning the death registrations data to the population estimates derived from the 2006 Census and PES, the method ensures consistency between the numerator (that is, estimates of deaths) and the denominator (estimates of population at risk). For more information, see Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.002) and Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003). The ABS is currently undertaking work to repeat the Census Data Enhancement project for 2011 Census and post-Census deaths. For further information, see Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update, Oct 2010 (cat. no. 2062.0).
In addition to the factors calculated for adjusting registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths for input into the life tables, a range of other measures of identification were also derived from the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study. For more information, see Experimental Life tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) and Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement - Indigenous Mortality Quality Study, 2006-07 (cat. no. 4723.0).
The ABS continues to work with state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and other stakeholders to improve the quality of recording of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the death registrations system in each jurisdiction. The increased numbers of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians recorded in recent years is partly due to substantial improvements in the completeness of the data.
As shown in table 3.1, improvements in the completeness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths data for Australia overall in the late 1990s were largely driven by improvements for Queensland and New South Wales. Queensland began to register deaths as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as such in 1996. In New South Wales, the number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths increased in 1998 to much higher levels than previous years. The numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths registered in South Australia and the Northern Territory have remained relatively constant since 1997, suggesting that recording has been relatively stable in these jurisdictions. The Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the ABS are actively working together to investigate the unusual fluctuations in the number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians registered in Western Australia in recent years. Until this investigation is finalised, caution should be exercised when interpreting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths data for 2007, 2008 and 2009 (see paragraph 36 of the Explanatory Notes).
Indigenous status on Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
From 2007 onwards, Indigenous status for deaths registered in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory is sourced from both the Death Registration Form (DRF) and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). If either the DRF, or the MCCD record the deceased as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian, the death is recorded as such. Prior to 2007, Indigenous status was only sourced from the DRF, for all states and territories. As a result of this change, there were an additional 31 deaths recorded as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian in 2010, representing a 1.1% increase in the number of deaths recorded as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for Australia overall. In addition, a further 493 records were reclassified from 'not stated' Indigenous status to 'non-Indigenous'.
The New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, in an effort to further enhance the quality of recording of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in deaths registrations, are investigating the possibility of implementing the capture of Indigenous status from the MCCD to enable its use by the ABS in deriving Indigenous status from both the MCCD and DRF.
The standard Indigenous status question
All states and territories include a question on the death registration form regarding the Indigenous status of the deceased, which must be lodged with the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. However, some jurisdictions have had a longer history of recording the Indigenous status of deaths than others. It has only been since the mid-to-late 1990s that a uniform system of reporting deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Australia has been established. The current question for all states and territories (excepting Victoria and the Northern Territory) asks:
"Was the deceased of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"
(If of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, tick both 'yes' boxes.)
Victoria and the Northern Territory ask:
"Was the deceased of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?"
Not stated responses
In addition to those deaths reported as deaths of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians, a number of deaths occur each year for which Indigenous status is not stated on the death registration form (table 3.2). In 2010, there were 1,200 deaths registered in Australia for which Indigenous status was not stated, representing 0.9% of all deaths registered. Queensland had the highest proportion of not stated responses in 2010 (2.5%), followed by Western Australia (0.9%).
As a proportion of all deaths registered, deaths for which Indigenous status was not stated decreased from 1.1% in 2009 to 0.9% in 2010. This was largely due to a decrease in the number of deaths in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland for which Indigenous status was not stated.
It is worth comparing the number of deaths in 2010 for which Indigenous status was not stated (1,200) with the total number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (2,800). Despite the relatively low proportion of deaths with unidentified Indigenous status (0.9%), it is likely that some of these were deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, contributing to mis-recording of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
This page last updated 7 November 2012
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