3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/12/2002   
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1 The registration of deaths is the responsibility of the individual state and territory Registrars and is based on information supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or an official of the institution where the death occurred and on information supplied by a medical practitioner as to the cause of death. This information is supplied to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by individual Registrars for compilation into the aggregate statistics in this publication.

2 In the main, statistics in this publication refer to deaths registered by the state and territory Registrars during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a death and, as a result of delays in registration, some deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or even later.




3 For deaths data, cell values less than three have been randomly allocated a value of zero or three to assist in the preservation of confidentiality of information, with the execption of tables 6.20 and 6.21.


4 Statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented in respect of the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occurred and was registered.

5 Table 6.7 shows the number of deaths cross-classified by state or territory of usual residence and state or territory of registration.

6 In 2001 there were 369 deaths registered in Australia of persons usually resident overseas. These deaths have been included in this publication and classified according to the state or territory in which the death was registered.


State or Territory of registration

New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

7 Following the 1992 amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act to include the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands as part of the geography of Australia, population estimates commencing with September quarter 1993 include estimates for these two territories. To reflect this change, another category of the state and territory level has been created, known as Other Territories. Other Territories include Jervis Bay Territory, previously included with the Australian Capital Territory, as well as Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, previously excluded from population estimates for Australia. Before 1997, cause of death data do not include deaths of persons usually resident in Other Territories. From 1997, cause of death data for residents of Other Territories are included in the total for Australia.


8 Figures in this publication do not include foetal deaths (stillbirths). Statistics on foetal deaths are given in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

9 Deaths of Australian residents which took place outside Australia are not included in the statistics.


10 Although it is considered likely that most Indigenous deaths are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not registered as 'Indigenous'. This publication includes the number of registered Indigenous deaths for usual residents in each state and territory. However, because of the data quality issues outlined below, more detailed breakdowns of Indigenous deaths are provided for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory only.

Coverage of Indigenous deaths

11 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are of Indigenous origin. Due to a number of factors, the results are not always consistent. The likelihood that a person will identify, or be identified, as Indigenous on a specific form is known as their propensity to identify as Indigenous. Propensity to identify as Indigenous can be thought of as the proportion of the total, unknown, number of Indigenous people who identify as such on a specific form.

12 Propensity to identify as Indigenous is determined by a range of factors, including who completes the form (e.g. the person in question, a relative, or an official); the perception of how the information will be used; education programs about identifying as Indigenous; and emotional reaction to identifying as Indigenous.

13 There are three estimates of the number of Indigenous deaths each year. Each is based on a different collection, with a different propensity to identify as Indigenous:
  • 1991 Census-based projections: These data are estimated using mortality levels based on 1986–1991 Indigenous life tables, and the Indigenous population based on the 1991 Census. These are published in Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 30 June 1991 – 30 June 2001 (cat. no. 3231.0);
  • 1996 Census-based estimates and projections: Estimates prior to 1996 are derived by backdating estimates of the 1996 Indigenous population. The level of mortality is based on the 1991–1996 experimental life tables published in Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 30 June 1996– 30 June 2006 (cat. no. 3231.0); and
  • Death registrations: This publication is based on the registration of deaths by each State and Territories' Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

14 The estimated coverage of Indigenous deaths is a comparison of the number of deaths registered as Indigenous with the Census-based estimates and projections of Indigenous deaths. For example, the total number of Indigenous deaths registered in 2001 (2,100) was around 85% of the number projected in the 1991 Census-based experimental projections, and 55% of the number of deaths projected in the 1996 Census-based experimental projections (see table 6.34). The variation between the 1991 and 1996 Census-based coverages can be primarily attributed to two factors: the change in propensity to identify as Indigenous on Census forms between the 1991 and 1996 Censuses, and the method used to estimate the death rates applied in the projections. In particular, the method used to estimate the death rates is very sensitive to the inputs used so that the resulting projected deaths are quite volatile.

15 Given this volatility, and the experimental nature of the base populations, the estimates of coverage in table 6.34 are only indicative. Actual coverage of death registrations is likely to lie within the 1991 Census base to 1996 Census base range provided, although possibly outside it. Given this uncertainty, the assessment of the completeness of coverage of Indigenous deaths should be interpreted with caution. Over-precise analysis based on Indigenous death registrations, Indigenous deaths coverage or projected Indigenous deaths should be avoided.


16 For deaths registered in 1999, the 10th revision of the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) was introduced for the coding of causes of death. Deaths registered in 1997 and 1998 have since been coded to ICD-10. Causes of death descriptions and corresponding codes used in this publication relate to particular causes or groups of causes as classified in ICD-10. The introduction of ICD-10 has broken the underlying cause of death series, particularly at the more detailed level of classification. For information on the differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10, please refer to Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

17 Deaths registered prior to 1997 are coded on the 9th version of the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9). For cause of death tables, new time series tables have been constructed commencing from 1997 on ICD-10. For cause-specific indirect standardised death rates the Australian 1999 death rates have been used as standard for 1997 onwards, as the conventional standard death rates (1991) are not available on ICD-10.

18 The time-series summary table (table 6.1) includes causes of death data. Data prior to 1997 is coded to ICD-9 and is not directly comparable with later years presented in the table. The pre-1997 data in this table relates to:
  • Malignant neoplasms (140–208);
  • Ischaemic heart diseases (410–414);
  • Cerebrovascular diseases (430–438);
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and allied conditions (including asthma, emphysema and bronchitis (490–496);
  • Accidents (E800–E949);

from the ICD-9 classification.

19 To enable the reader to see the relationship between the various summary classifications used in this publication, all tables show in brackets the ICD codes which constitute the causes of death covered.

20 ICD-10 allows for the coding of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths (B20-B24). As ICD-9 did not directly accommodate the coding of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths, cases where AIDS was the underlying cause were coded to ICD-9 deficiency of cell-mediated immunity (279.1), from 1988 to 1995. In 1996, ABS adopted ICD-9 Clinically Modified (CM) for coding of AIDS and AIDS-related deaths. Hence, for 1996, all AIDS-related deaths (i.e. deaths where AIDS was mentioned in any place on the death certificate) were coded to HIV infection (042–044). For all years where ICD-9 has been used, all AIDS-related deaths in table 6.20 and 6.21 have been reported as ICD-9 CM HIV infection (042–044).

21 All data in this publication refer to AIDS-related deaths rather than only those deaths where AIDS is the underlying cause. Hence in table 6.20 and 6.21, AIDS-related deaths differ from the data provided for all other causes in that table since for all other causes, only data for underlying cause are given.


22 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.

23 The life tables in this publication 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 for the Australian, state and territory, and Indigenous life tables are based on 1999–2001 data.

24 A life table may be complete or abridged, depending on the age interval used in the compilation. Complete life tables such as those for Australian population contain data by single years of age, while abridged life tables, such as those for the Indigenous population, contain data for five-year age groups.

25 Life tables are presented separately for each sex. 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.

26 To construct a life table, data on population, deaths and births are needed. Mortality rates are smoothed to avoid fluctuations in the data. The life tables presented in this publication contain four columns of interrelated information. These functions are:

qx - the mortality rate. The probability of dying between exact ages x and x+1. All other functions of the life table are derived from qx;
lx - the number of survivors at exact age x;
Lx - the number of person-years lived within the age interval x and x+1; and
e0x - life expectancy. The average remaining lifetime (in years) for persons who survive to an exact age x.

Australian life tables

27 The 1999–2001 life tables were produced by the ABS. The tables differ from those published prior to the 1995 edition of this publication in a number of important respects. Firstly, they are based on three years of population and deaths data. This is designed to reduce the impact of year-to-year statistical variations, particularly at younger ages where there is a small number of deaths and at very old ages where the population at risk is small. Secondly, the population and deaths data are based on Australian residents who are physically present in Australia over the three-year period i.e. Australian residents temporarily overseas are excluded. Thirdly, they have been actuarially graduated on the same principles which were used for the quinquennial Australian life tables prepared by the Australian Government Actuary. Life tables for the states and territories are produced on the same principles as these tables and are available on request or in the Demography, State publications (cat. nos 3311.1–8).

Small area life tables

28 Expectation of life for Statistical Divisions (table 6.6) have been calculated with reference to state and territory life tables, using Brass' Logit System. Small area life tables are based on age-specific death rates for each area, some of which may be zero as no deaths were recorded at those ages. 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.

29 Essentially, the technique 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 Brass' Logit System refer to Brass (1975) Methods for Estimating Fertility and Mortality from Limited and Defective data.


30 Time series data from 1901 to 1995 is available in the 1995 issue of Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0), in Australian Demographic Trends, 1997
(cat. no. 3102.0) and in Australian Historical Population Statistics (available through AusStats, see Explanatory Note 32).


31 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. 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.


32 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users include:
  • AusStats - <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats> electronic data (see Explanatory Note 30)
  • Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. no. 3101.0) - issued quarterly
  • Australian Demographic Trends (Cat. no. 3102.0) - issued irregularly
  • Births, Australia (Cat. no. 3301.0) - issued annually
  • Causes of Death, Australia (Cat. no. 3303.0) - issued annually
  • Perinatal Deaths, Australia (Cat. no. 3304.0) - issued annually to 1993 Population Projections, Australia 1999-2101 (Cat. no. 3222.0)
  • Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population (Cat. no. 3231.0) - issued irregularly.

33 AusStats <https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats> is a web based information service which provides the ABS full standard product range on-line. It also includes companion data in multidimensional datasets in SuperTABLE format and spreadsheets. For a list of the related data available on AusStats see the List of tables on page 5.

34 A compendium of all demographic data for each state and territory has been released in state or territory specific publications, Demography, State (cat. nos 3311.1–8). These publications are released each year for each state or territory and contain a variety of demographic data.

35 From 1994 detailed state and territory data for deaths and causes of death are available in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

36 Current publications produced by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products (cat. no. 1101.0).

37 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, additional information is available from this site and accessing Themes/Demography.and accessing Themes/Demography.


38 The ABS can also make available information which is not published. See Appendix 2 for the characteristics processed by the ABS related to deaths registered. A charge is made for providing unpublished information.