3303.0.55.002 - Microdata: Mortality, Enhanced Characteristics, Australia , 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/12/2016  First Issue
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Mortality data in this microdata product are sourced from death registrations administered by the various state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is a legal requirement of each state and territory that all deaths are registered. Information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred on a Death Registration Form. 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, or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation.

Death records were provided electronically to the ABS by individual Registrars on a monthly basis. Each death record contains both demographic data and medical information from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, where available. Information from coronial investigations is provided to the ABS through the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).


Mortality Data

The ABS causes of death collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS deaths or causes of death statistics.

Data in the Causes of Death collection include Causes of Death information, as well as some demographic items. Causes of Death information is obtained from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (general deaths), the Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death (perinatal deaths) and the National Coronial Information System (coroner-certified deaths). Causes of Death are coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Issues for causes of death data:

•The primary objective of the owner of the source data can differ from the information needs of the statistical users. Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and coroners have legislative and administrative obligations to meet, as well as being the source of statistics. As a result, the population covered by the source data, the time reference period for some data, and the data items available in the registration system, may not align exactly with the requirements of users of the statistics.
•There can be differences between the defined scope of the population (i.e. every death occurring in Australia) and the actual coverage achieved by the registration system. Levels of registration can be influenced by external factors and coverage achieved will be influenced by the steps taken by the owners of death registration systems to ensure all deaths are registered. For example, a death certificate may need to be produced in order to finalise certain other legal requirements e.g. finalisation of a person's estate.
•There are eight different registration systems within Australia. Each jurisdiction's registration system, while similar in many ways, also has a number of differences. These can include the types of data items collected, the definition of those collected data items, and business processes undertaken within Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages including coding and quality assurance practices.

Census of Population and Housing Data

The Australian Census of Population and Housing is the official count of population and dwellings and collects details of age, sex and other characteristics of the population.

The Census aims to measure the number and key characteristics of people in Australia on Census Night. All people in Australia on Census Night are in scope, except foreign diplomats and their families. Visitors to Australia are counted regardless of how long they have been in the country or how long they plan to stay. Australian residents not in the country on Census Night are out of scope of the Census.

Topics collected by the Census change from time to time. There must be a demonstrated national need for Census data for policy development, planning and program monitoring. Details on the changing content of Censuses from 1911 to 2011 can be found in Appendix 4 of How Australia Takes a Census (cat. no. 2903.0). A copy of the 2016 Census Household Form is included in the Appendix to the Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0).

Minimal changes were made to the 2011 Census questions, however there were some major changes in some of the classifications used. The largest of these is the change around geographical units used to output Census data. The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) will be used for the 2011 Census for the first time. Other revised classifications have been used for the coding of occupation, industry, cultural and ethnic groups, language, religion and countries. For more detail see the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0).


Mortality Data

There is a focus on fitness for purpose when causes of death statistics are released. To meet user requirements for accurate causes of death data it is necessary to obtain information from other administrative sources before all information for the reference period is available. This specifically applies to coroner certified deaths, where extra information relating to the death is provided through police, toxicology, autopsy and coronial finding reports. A balance therefore needs to be maintained between accuracy (completeness) of data and timeliness.

As coroner certified deaths can have ill-defined causes of death until a case is closed within the coronial system, a revisions process was introduced to enhance the cause of death output for open coroner cases. This process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths either 12 or 24 months after initial processing. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014, for further information on the revision process.

Issues for causes of death data:

•A balance is maintained between accuracy (completeness) and timeliness, taking into account the different needs of users and maximising the fitness for purpose of the data. Documentation including explanatory notes and technical notes are provided for causes of death statistics. These should be used to assess the fitness for purpose of the data to ensure informed decisions can be made.
•The timeliness of administrative information that supports cause of death coding can be impacted by legislative requirements, systems and resources available to maintain/update systems.

Census of Population and Housing Data

The Census and Statistics Act 1905 requires the Australian Statistician to conduct a Census on a regular basis. Since 1961, a Census has been held every 5 years. The 2011 Census was the 16th national Census, and marked the centenary of national Censuses in Australia. It was held on 9 August 2011.

For the 2011 Census, first release data was available on the ABS website on 21 June 2012, second release data on 30 October 2012 and third release data on 28 March 2013, with products released progressively until the end of 2013.


Mortality Data

Non-sampling errors may influence accuracy in datasets which constitute a complete census of the population, such as the Causes of Death collection. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. Every effort is made to minimise non-sample error by working closely with data providers, conducting quality checks throughout the data processing cycle, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.

The ABS has implemented a revisions process that applies to all coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2006. This is a change from preceding years where all ABS processing of causes of death data for a particular reference period was finalised approximately 13 months after the end of the reference period. The revisions process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths as it becomes available over time, resulting in increased specificity of the assigned ICD-10 codes. See Explanatory Notes 52-55 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014, for further information on the revision process.

Issues for causes of death data:

•Completeness of the dataset e.g. impact of registration lags, processing lags and duplicate records.
•Extent of coverage of the population (while all deaths are legally required to be registered some cases may not be registered for an extended time).
•Some lack of consistency in the application of questions or forms used by administrative data providers.
•The level of specificity and completeness in coronial reports or doctor's findings on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
•Errors in the coding of the causes of a death to ICD-10. The majority of cause of death coding is undertaken through an automated coding process, which is estimated to have a very high level of accuracy. Human coding can be subject to error, however the ABS mitigates this risk through rigorous coder training, detailed documentation and instructions for coding complex or difficult cases, and extensive data quality checks.
•Cases where coronial proceedings remain open at the end of ABS processing for a reference period are potentially assigned a less specific ICD-10 cause of death code.

Census of Population and Housing Data

The ABS aims to produce high quality data from the Census. To achieve this, extensive effort is put into Census form design, collection procedures and processing. There are four principal sources of error in Census data which quality management aims to reduce as much as possible; they are respondent error, processing error, partial or non-response and undercount. For more detail, see the 2011 Census Dictionary (cat. no. 2901.0)

The Census is self-enumerated, and respondents sometimes do not return a Census form or fail to answer every applicable question. Persons are imputed into dwellings for which no form was returned, together with some demographic characteristics for these people. These same demographic characteristics are imputed if not provided by respondents on a returned form. However, the majority of output classifications include a 'Not Stated' category to record the level of non-response for that data item. Data quality statements are produced for each Census data item and include the non-response rate for each variable and a brief outline of any known data quality problems, as well as a comparison with the non-response rate for the 2006 Census.


Mortality Data

The ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of cause of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases, conditions, injuries and external events as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records. It is used for both morbidity and mortality purposes, with the morbidity version incorporating clinical modifications. The ICD is revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The 10th revision of ICD (ICD-10) is used for the 2011 and 2012 data included in the microdata product.

Census of Population and Housing Data

It is important for Census data to be compatible with previous Censuses and also with other data produced by the ABS and wider community. The ABS, and the Census, uses Australian standard classifications, where available and appropriate, to provide data comparability across statistical collections. These include, for example, standards for occupation and geographic areas. For more details regarding classifications used in the Census, see the Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0) entry About Census Classifications, and the relevant entries for each classification.


Mortality Data

The Causes of Death publication (cat. no. 3303.0) contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes, Appendices and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Census of Population and Housing Data

The Census provides a wealth of data about the Australian community through a suite of standard products, and data customised for individual requirements. The Census Dictionary, 2011 (cat. no. 2901.0) is a comprehensive reference guide designed to assist users to determine and specify their data requirements, and to understand the concepts underlying the data. It provides details of classifications used and a glossary of definitions of Census terms.

A number of other resources can be accessed from the Census of Population and Housing Data quality page on the ABS website. This includes data quality statements, non-response rates and fact sheets.


The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act (1905), which users of this microdata product must observe. This will restrict the use of some aspects of this data.

Mortality Data

A wide range of other causes of death data is available in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).
A national causes of death unit record file can also be obtained through the Australian Coordinating Registry via the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data available on application for legitimate research purposes only).

Census of Population and Housing Data

A variety of other data from the Census of Population and Housing is available free of charge on the ABS website. The ABS may also have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to client.services@abs.gov.au.

The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that individuals provide to the ABS.

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