3318.0 - Mortality Atlas, Australia, 1997 to 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/12/2002   
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  • Mortality atlas reveals higher death rates in remote Australia (Media Release)


December 17, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Mortality atlas reveals higher death rates in remote Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released an atlas which illustrates the death rates experienced in different regions of Australia, for a range of major causes of death. The maps in the Atlas show that remote areas of Australia experienced higher death rates than the more densely populated areas for cancer, diabetes mellitus, and several other major leading causes.

The information in the atlas is based on more than half a million (512,945) registered deaths in Australia between 1997 to 2000.

Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin said the remote areas of the Northern Territory recorded the highest average annual rates of deaths for malignant neoplasms (cancer), ischaemic heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, chronic lower respiratory diseases and influenza and pneumonia, while the Kimberley in Western Australia had the highest death rates for accidents, diabetes mellitus and intentional self harm (suicide). (see Table 1)

"Death rates by gender show males have higher levels of death in most of the main causes of death," he said. (see Table 2)

"Health services planners, demographers, researchers and social geographers in government and private organisations will find the atlas a very valuable resource for understanding relationships between cause of death and location."

The Atlas complements the detailed Cause of Death data published annually by the ABS.

Further details are available in Mortality Atlas Australia (cat. no. 3318.0).

Table 1 - Age Standardised Death Rates (average 1997-2000)

Top 10 underlying causes of death
(per 100,000 persons)
(per 100,000 persons)

Malignant neoplasms (Cancer)East Arnhem SSD in NT (322.5)Far North SSD in South Australia (SA) (122.3)

Ischaemic heart diseases

Alligator SSD in Northern Territory (NT) (406.1), followed by East Arnhem SD in NT (349.1)

Moore SSD in Western Australia (WA) (85.5)

Cerebrovascular diseases

NT Bal SD (118.5) (This covers most of NT except Darwin)

Midlands SD in WA (34.8)

Chronic lower respiratory diseases

NT Bal SD in NT (104.1)

Coastal areas of Southeast Queensland (QLD), New South Wales (NSW) and SA.


Kimberley SD in WA (82.9) followed by NT Bal SD in NT (66.5).

Far West SD in NSW (19.3)

Diabetes mellitus

Kimberley SD in WA (69.4) followed by NT Bal SD in NT (68.4) and North West SD in QLD (54.4).

Richmond-Tweed SD (9.4)

Influenza and pneumonia

NT Bal SD in NT (50.4) followed by Kimberley SD in WA (47.1).

Illawarra SD in NSW (8.1)

Diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries

Eastern states experienced the highest death rates - particularly QLD and Tasmania.

SA and NT recorded the lowest rates.

Intentional self-harm (suicide)

Kimberley SD in WA (39.8)

Pilbara in WA (9.7)

Organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders
(includes dementia)

Central Highlands SD in Victoria (20.6)

Illawarra SD in NSW (6.2)

Note: Death rates are displayed for Australian Statistical Divisions (SD) and Statistical Subdivisions (SSD).

Table 2 - Age Standardised Death Rates (average 1997-2000)

Males (deaths per 100,000 persons)
Females (deaths per 100,000 persons)

Malignant Neoplasms
Ischaemic Heart Disease
Cerebrovascular diseases
Chronic lower respiratory diseases
Diabetes mellitus
Influenza and pneumonia
Motor vehicle traffic accidents
Organic, including symptomatic, mental disorders (includes dementia)