The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been funded as part of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Closing the Gap initiative and given a mandate to deliver information to improve the measurement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy. The intent of the funding was to ensure the ABS has the capability to deliver high quality linked data for statistical use. Through this investment in data linking capability, the project enables reporting against the COAG target to close the life expectancy gap within a generation.
The 2016 Death Registrations to Census linkage project enables an estimate of the under-identification of Indigenous status in death registrations to be produced. This allows for adjustments to the registered data when compiling the Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2015-17 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) released on 29 November 2018.
2.1 COLLECTION OF DEATH REGISTRATIONS DATA FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE
Death registrations data from the State and Territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages are used by the ABS to produce estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. The information relates to all registered deaths including those referred to a Coroner. While there is some variation in practice among the jurisdictions, information supplied on both the Death Registration form and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (completed by medical practitioners) has been used where available to derive Indigenous status. Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths are used as an input for calculating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and life expectancy estimates.
2.2 COLLECTION OF CENSUS DATA FOR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE
The Census is usually completed by a responsible adult answering for themselves or on behalf of another person present in the dwelling on Census night. In the standard Census form, Indigenous status is reported by the person completing the form and in some instances may not be answered. By contrast, Interviewer Household Forms are used in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and in some urban areas. These forms are completed by a trained interviewer, who is recruited from the local community wherever possible. For further information on how the 2016 Census was undertaken please refer to Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 2900.0).
2.3 CENSUS 2016 DATA QUALITY
In June 2017, the Report on the Quality of 2016 Census Data was released by the Census Independent Assurance Panel. The Panel determined that the 2016 Census data is of a comparable quality to previous Censuses, is useful and useable, and will support the same variety of uses of Census data as was the case for previous Censuses.
The Report included a broad assessment of the key linking variables used in the Death Registrations to Census project; including name and date of birth. Although the quality of these variables was high for the 2016 Census, there was a decrease in the quality of this information relative to the 2011 Census. The Report noted the following:
- a substantial increase in the non-response rate for date of birth, increasing from 10% in 2011 to 19% in 2016;
- an increase in non-response for first name, from 49,000 persons in 2011 to 209,000 persons in 2016; and
- an increase in non-response for surname, from 127,000 persons in 2011 to 274,000 persons in 2016.
For further information on the quality of particular Census variables, please refer to Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia, 2016
(cat. no. 2900.0).