Life expectancy is a broad measure of a population’s long-term health and wellbeing. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has set a target of closing the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians within a generation (see Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2011 available at www.pc.gov.au). So that progress toward this target can be more accurately measured, COAG has funded the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to undertake an ongoing program of work to improve the quality of life expectancy and other mortality estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
This program of work commenced with the 2006 Census Data Enhancement (CDE) program, a quality study which brought together data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, with data from death registrations for the period August 2006 to 30 June 2007, during the Census processing period using name, address and other information about the person. This was achieved using probabilistic linking techniques and is referred to by the ABS as a Gold Level Standard linkage. This study showed that estimates of life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could be significantly improved by adjusting for differences between the Indigenous status in death registrations, and the Census and Post Enumeration Survey. Adjustment factors obtained in the 2006 quality study were used to derive adjusted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths for use in compiling life tables and life expectancy estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The 2006 quality study recommended that the project be repeated following the 2011 Census. For further information see Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003) and Census Data Enhancement — Indigenous Mortality Quality Study 2006–07 (cat. no. 4723.0).
The 2011 CDE program included a number of linkage projects that brought together data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing with other specified datasets. The 2011 CDE Indigenous Mortality Project replicated the approach and methodology used in the 2006 quality study, and involved linking the 2011 Census with death registrations where the death occurred on or after 10 August 2011 and was registered by 27 September 2012. This enabled the ABS to examine differences in the reporting of Indigenous status across the datasets, and apply adjustment factors to deaths in order to produce the best estimates of life expectancy. See also Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update, October 2010 (cat. no. 2062.0).
This information paper is one of three reports from the Indigenous Mortality Project. It presents information about the consistency of Indigenous status across death registrations and the 2011 Census, and an examination of social and demographic characteristics associated with differences in Indigenous status identification. At the same time as this release, adjusted mortality rates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, together with 2011 Census-based life expectancy estimates were released in Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003). The first report, Information Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project — Methodology and Quality Assessment, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0.55.004) was published on 28 August 2013. This described the methodology and data quality features that were implemented in the Indigenous Mortality Project, and presented a detailed assessment of linkage quality.