3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/2004   
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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.

Deaths registered in the same year as they occurred



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 exception of tables 5.1 and 5.2.


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

6 In 2003 there were 336 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.

Deaths of overseas visitors

State/territory of registration

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

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)

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 fetal deaths (stillbirths). Statistics on fetal 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 The ABS death statistics collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents which occurred outside Australia may be registered but are not included in the ABS statistics as was the case for many of the Australians killed in the Bali bombing.

11 As deaths of Australian residents which occurred outside of Australia are not within the scope of the collection most of the Australian victims of the Bali bombing have been excluded from these statistics. Only eight victims of the bombing died after arrival or en route to Australia and have been included in 2002 statistics. The number includes two overseas residents.

12 Under the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) these deaths have been coded to X96 (Assault by explosive material).

International comparison

13 After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 the National Center for Health Statistics in the United States of America assigned preliminary codes within the ICD-10 classification for deaths by terrorism. To classify a death as terrorist-related in the United States of America, it is necessary for the incident to be designated as such by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

14 The ABS has not adopted the terrorism codes but has coded these deaths using the standard ICD-10 classification and coding rules. If the terrorism codes were to be used and the Bali bombing was classified as a terrorist-related incident these deaths would have been classified as U01.2 Terrorism involving other explosives and fragments.


15 Although it is considered likely that most Indigenous deaths are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not registered as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. This publication includes the number of registered Indigenous deaths. However, because of the data quality issues outlined below, more detailed breakdowns of Indigenous deaths are provided only for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Coverage of Indigenous deaths

16 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.

17 Propensity to identify as Indigenous is determined by a range of factors, including how the information is collected; who completes the form; the perception of how the information will be used; education programs about identifying as Indigenous; and cultural issues associated with identifying as Indigenous.

18 There are two estimates of the number of Indigenous deaths each year. Each is based on a different collection, with a different propensity to identify as Indigenous:

  • 2001 census-based estimates and projections: Estimates prior to 2001 are derived by backdating estimates of the 2001 Indigenous population. The level of mortality is based on the 1996-2001 experimental life tables published in Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2009 (cat. no. 3238.0).
  • Death registrations: This publication is based on the registration of deaths by each state and territories' Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

19 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.

20 Given this volatility, and the experimental nature of the base populations, any estimates of coverage are only indicative. 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.


21 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).

22 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.

23 The time series summary table (table 5.1) 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)

24 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.

25 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 have been reported as ICD-9 CM HIV infection (042-044).

26 All data in this publication refer to AIDS-related deaths rather than only those deaths where AIDS is the underlying cause. Hence in table 5.1 and 5.2, 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.


27 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.

28 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, and state and territory life tables are based on 2001-2003 data.

29 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.

30 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.

31 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

32 The 2001-2003 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 for the years 1994-1996 to 1999-2001 these are available in the Demography, State publications (cat. nos. 3311.1-8). State life tables for 2000-2002 are available on request and tables for 2001-2003 can be purchased on AusStats (see paragraph 47).

Small area life tables

33 Expectation of life for Statistical Divisions (table 3.5) 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.

34 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.


35 The ABS has developed summary measures, or indexes, derived from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing to measure different aspects of socio economic conditions by geographic areas. The Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage is included in table 3.5.

36 The index has been constructed so that relatively advantaged areas have high index values. A higher score on the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Advantage/Disadvantage indicates that an area has attributes such as a relatively high proportion of people with high incomes or a skilled work force. It also means an area has a low proportion of people with low incomes and relatively few unskilled people in the work force. Conversely, a low score indicates that an area has a higher proportion of individuals with low incomes, more employees in unskilled occupations, etc.; and a low proportion of people with high incomes or in skilled occupations.

37 Further information can be found in the Information Paper: Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 2039.0).


38 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 47).


39 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.


40 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to users include:

      AusStats - electronic data (see Explanatory Note 47)
      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 2002-2101, cat. no. 3222.0 - issued irregularly
      Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, 1991 to 2009, cat. no. 3231.0 - issued irregularly
      The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, cat. no. 4704.0 - issued bi-annually.

41 A compendium of all demographic data for each state and territory has been released in state or territory specific electronic products, Demography, State (cat. nos 3311.0-8.55.001). These products are released each year for each state or territory and contain a variety of demographic data.

42 From 1994 detailed state and territory data for deaths and causes of death are available in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0). Due to a delay in the processing of 2003 cause of death data, Causes of Deaths, Australia 2003 will be released in February 2005. A web-based release, Causes of Death, Australia 2003 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001) has been released in the meantime.

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

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


45 The ABS can also make available information which is not published. See Appendix 1 for the characteristics processed by the ABS related to deaths registered. A charge is applied for providing unpublished information.

46 For additional mortality articles written by the ABS, please see the list in Appendix 2.

47 AusStats is a web based information service which provides the ABS full standard product range online. It also includes time series and multidimensional data cubes and spreadsheets available electronically. A list of additional deaths data available on AusStats is listed below;

      3105.0.65.001 Australian Historical Population Statistics
          Table 3 Population and components of change, States and territories, Year ended 30 June, 1971 onwards
          Table 43 Deaths registered by sex, States and territories, 1824 onwards
          Table 44 Infant deaths, States and territories, 1901 onwards
          Table 45 Standardised death rates, States and territories
          Table 46 Infant mortality rates, States and territories
          Table 47 Crude death rates by sex, States and territories
          Table 48 Life expectancy at birth by sex, States and territories, Selected years, 1881 onwards
          Table 49 Expectation of life at single ages (0-100 years), Females, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 50 Number of persons at exact age x (lx), Females, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 51 Number of person years lived at age x, x+1 (Lx), Females, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 52 Probability of dying between exact age x and exact age x+1 (qx), Females, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 53 Expectation of life at single ages (0-100 years), Males, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 54 Number of persons at exact age x (lx), Males, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 55 Number of person years lived at age x, x+1 (Lx), Males, Australia, 1881 onwards
          Table 56 Probability of dying between exact age x and exact age x+1 (qx), Males, Australia, 1881 onwards
      3302.0.55.001 Life tables, Australia, 2001-2003
      3302.1.55.001 Life tables, New South Wales, 2001-2003
      3302.2.55.001 Life tables, Victoria, 2001-2003
      3302.3.55.001 Life tables, Queensland, 2001-2003
      3302.4.55.001 Life tables, South Australia, 2001-2003
      3302.5.55.001 Life tables, Western Australia, 2001-2003
      3302.6.55.001 Life tables, Tasmania, 2001-2003
      3302.7.55.001 Life tables, Northern Territory, 2001-2003
      3302.8.55.001 Life tables, Australian Capital Territory, 2001-2003
      3303.0 Causes of death, Australia
          Underlying cause of death by sex, Age at death, State of usual residence and ICD-10 for 2001 (data cube)