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6 The scope of the statistics excludes:
7 The scope for each reference year of the Death Registrations collection includes:
8 Death records received by ABS during the March quarter 2012 which were initially registered in 2011 (but not fully completed until 2012) were assigned to the 2011 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2011 which were received by ABS from April 2012 were assigned to the 2012 reference year.
9 Prior to 2007, the scope for the reference year of the Death Registrations collection included:
Coverage of death statistics
10 Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of events (deaths) should be recorded as all those occurring within a given reference period such as a calendar year. Due to lags in registration of deaths and the provision of that information to the ABS from state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, data in this publication are presented on a year of registration basis.
11 In effect, there are three dates attributable to each death registration:
12 Marital status relates to the registered marital status of the deceased at the time of death, which refers to formally registered marriages or divorces for which a certificate is held.
13 From 2007 onwards, marital status at death is provided by registries as legal marital status. Previously, a mix of legal and social marital status was used by some states and territories.
14 This issue of Deaths, Australia includes data cubes contain death and mortality statistics on the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) Second Edition.
15 Since July 2011, the ABS has been progressively transitioning from the ASGC to the new ASGS. The ASGS is a hierarchical classification system that defines more stable, consistent and meaningful areas than the ASGC. Future issues of this publication will only contain death statistics on an ASGS basis.
16 The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (Second Edition) groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographical areas on the basis of their similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics.
17 For further information, refer to Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0), Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001) and Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).
18 Registration of deaths is the responsibility of state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Information about the deceased is acquired from a Death Registration Form (DRF) which is completed by the funeral director, based on information supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. As part of the registration process, information on the cause of death is either supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD), or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation. This information is provided to the ABS by individual Registrars for coding and compilation into aggregate statistics shown in this publication.
State and territory data
19 As a result of an amendment made in 1992 to section 17(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1973 (Cwlth) the Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included as part of geographic Australia, hence another category of the state and territory classification has been created. This category is known as 'Other Territories' and includes Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory.
20 Prior to 1993, deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island or Cocos (Keeling) Islands were included with Off-Shore Areas and Migratory in Western Australia, while deaths of persons usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory were included with the Australian Capital Territory. In 2011, there were seven deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or Jervis Bay Territory.
21 Death statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented according to the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occurred and was registered, except where otherwise stated. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics.
22 In the following table, data are presented on a state or territory of registration basis. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics. Deaths of persons who were usual residents of Australia's Other Territories (Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory) are registered in other Australian states.
23 In 2011, there were 315 deaths registered in Australia of persons who usually lived overseas. These have been included in this publication with state and territory of usual residence classified according to the state or territory in which the death was registered.
Sub-state/territory mortality rates
24 Standardised death rates for sub-state/territory regions (for example, Statistical Area Level 4) presented in accompanying spreadsheets released with this publication are average rates for three years ending in the reference year. With the exception of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data, rates for Australia and the states and territories in all other tables are based on single years of death registration data.
25 In compiling death statistics, the ABS employs a variety of measures to improve the quality of the death registrations collection. While every opportunity is taken to ensure that the highest quality of statistics are provided, the following are known issues associated with the statistics included in this publication.
Interval between occurrence and registration of deaths
26 For the most part, statistics in this publication refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a death (referred to as a registration 'lag'), and as a result, some deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay in the submission of a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the death. Deaths which occur in November and December are also likely to be registered in the following year.
27 Of the 146,932 deaths registered in 2011, 94.8% occurred in 2011, while 5.0% occurred in 2010 and the remainder (0.2%) occurred in 2009 or earlier years.
Unknown infant age at death
28 For some infant deaths, only limited information for age at death is known. These deaths are included in the following categories:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and mortality rates
29 The ABS Death Registrations collection identifies a death as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander where the deceased is recorded as an Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both through the death registration process.
30 While it is considered likely that most deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not reported as such by the family, health worker or funeral director during the death registration process. That is, whilst data are provided to the ABS for the Indigenous status question for 99.5% of all deaths, there are concerns regarding the accuracy of the data. The Indigenous status question may not always be directly asked of relatives and friends of the deceased by the funeral director.
31 This publication includes the number of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians for all jurisdictions. However, due to the data quality issues outlined below, detailed disaggregations of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are provided only for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The 'total' variable in these disaggregations is the sum of four states and the Northern Territory.
32 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian. Due to a number of factors, the results are not always consistent. The likelihood that a person will report, or be recorded, as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian on a specific form is known as the propensity to identify. Propensity to identify as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian can be thought of as the proportion of the total, unknown, number of people who are reported and were recorded as such on a specific form.
33 Propensity to identify and be recorded as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian is determined by a range of factors, including:
34 In addition to those deaths recorded as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, a number of deaths occur each year where Indigenous status is not stated on the death registration form. In 2011, there were 794 deaths registered in Australia for whom Indigenous status was not stated, representing 0.5% of all deaths registered.
35 Data presented in this publication may therefore underestimate the level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and mortality in Australia. Caution should be exercised when interpreting data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians presented in this publication, especially with regard to year-to-year changes.
36 Due to the increased focus on the mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, a number of projects have been undertaken to investigate the quality of these data. These include:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian life tables
37 Life tables for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for the period 2005 to 2007 were published in May 2009 in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003).
38 Estimates of life expectancy at birth for the total population presented in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) differ from estimates published in Deaths, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0). Estimates presented in Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) are derived from abridged life tables with an upper age limit of 85 years and over, using numbers of deaths registered in 2005-2007 and the population as at 30 June 2006, while life expectancy estimates in Deaths, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0) are based on complete life tables with an upper age group of 115 years and over, using deaths according to month of occurrence in 2005-2007 and quarterly population estimates. In addition, graduation processes applied to both sets of life tables differ. See paragraphs 43 to 52 for more information on life tables.
Principles on the use of direct age-standardisation
39 In the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA), the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a set of targets for closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Mortality rates are one of the performance indicators specified in the NIRA to measure progress against this target.
40 Age-standardised rates, along with infant and child mortality rates, are used to determine whether the mortality of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is declining over time and whether the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations is narrowing. However, there were some inconsistencies in the way different government agencies calculated age-standardised rates in the past. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) hosted a workshop on age-standardisation on 19 April 2011 to discuss the best method of age-standardisation (direct or indirect) and to produce a clear set of guidelines specifically for the analysis and reporting of COAG "Closing the Gap" indicators. Workshop participants agreed that the direct method is the most preferred method of age-standardisation as it allows for valid comparisons of mortality rates between different study populations and across time. Prior to 2011 some standardised death rates were calculated using the indirect method.
41 The direct method has also been applied to the dissemination of death rates by country of birth from the release of the 2010 issue of this publication, replacing the previous indirect standardised death rates. Standardised death rates for countries with less than a total of 20 deaths, or geographies with less than 30 ERP in any one age group are not available for publication.
42 For further information, see Appendix: Principles on the use of direct age-standardisation in Deaths, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3302.0).
43 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.
44 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 used in the Australian and state and territory life tables are based on death registrations and estimated resident population for the period 2009-2011. The life tables do not take into account future assumed improvements in mortality.
45 Life tables are presented separately for males and females. 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.
46 To construct a life table, data on population, deaths and births are needed. Mortality rates are smoothed to avoid fluctuations in the data. Apart from mortality rates themselves (qx), all other functions of the life table are derived from qx. The life tables presented in this publication contain four columns of interrelated information. These functions are:
Life tables based on assumed improvements in mortality
47 Life tables based on assumed improvements in mortality are produced by the ABS using assumptions on future life expectancy at birth, based on recent trends in life expectancy. Mortality rates derived from these life tables are used as inputs to ABS population projections. For further information see Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).
Australian life tables
48 The 2009-2011 life 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 death registrations (by month of occurrence), and estimated resident population data (by quarter of occurrence). This is designed to reduce the impact of year-to-year statistical variations, particularly at younger ages where there are small numbers of deaths, and at very old ages where the population at risk is small. Secondly, the deaths and population 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, as are deaths in Australia of overseas visitors. Thirdly, they have been actuarially graduated on the same principles which are used for the quinquennial Australian life tables prepared by the Australian Government Actuary (AGA). Due to fine level adjustments made by the ABS to mortality rates, the ABS life tables may differ slightly to those produced by the AGA (http://www.aga.gov.au/publications/#life_tables).
State and territory life tables
49 Life tables for the states and territories are produced on the same principles as the Australian life tables with the exception of the crude m(x) rate. Crude m(x) rates are graduated using the Australian life table through the application of the Lidstone transformation. This overcomes problems associated with excessive noise in the single year of age rates. In addition, some hand-polishing and suppression of outliers is often required to achieve reasonable mortality curves with satisfactory goodness-of-fit statistics.
50 State and territory life tables produced by the ABS are available for:
Statistical Area Level 4 and Statistical Division life tables
51 Life expectancy at birth for Statistical Area Level 4s and Statistical Divisions 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 where no deaths are recorded at these 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.
52 The Brass' Logit technique essentially 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.
CAUSES OF DEATH
53 Causes of death information is published under the 3303.0 product family. For more information see Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2010 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001) scheduled for release on 21 November 2012, and Causes of Death, Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 3303.0) scheduled for release in March 2013.
54 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.
55 Where necessary, tables in this publication have had small values suppressed or randomised to protect confidentiality. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals.
56 Calculations as shown in the commentary sections of this publication are based on unrounded figures. Calculations using rounded figures may differ from those published. Where figures have been rounded in tables, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.
57 All data are affected by errors in reporting and processing. Death registrations data are also affected by delays in registration.
58 The ABS' publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. The efforts of Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages to improve the data quality, coverage and timeliness of death registration information, processes and systems are noted and valued by the ABS. 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.
59 Other ABS products which may be of interest to users include:
60 ABS products and publications are available free of charge from the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>. Click on Statistics to gain access to the full range of ABS statistical and reference information.
ADDITIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE
61 More detailed death and mortality statistics can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft excel format) available for download from the ABS website.
62 Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0)
63 Life tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2009-2011 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001)
64 Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)
65 For additional articles on deaths (including causes of death) and mortality published by the ABS, see Appendix: Feature Articles List. This is available from the Explanatory Notes tab of this publication.
66 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
67 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details the products to be released in the week ahead.
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