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DATA LINKING PROCESS
The Indigenous Mortality Project expanded on the methods used in the 2006 quality study, as described in the research paper Linking Census Records to Death Registrations (cat. no. 1351.0.55.030).
Detailed information on Indigenous Mortality Project methodology and linkage quality is available in Information Paper: Death Registrations to Census Linkage Project — Methodology and Quality Assessment Australia 2011–12 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.004).
Confidentiality of data used for linking was maintained in accordance with the High Level Principles for Data Integration involving Commonwealth data for Statistical and Research Purposes endorsed by the Secretaries Board in 2010. Operational arrangements for managing data flows within the ABS included restricting access to information through the functional separation of roles. These roles ensured that no-one could see identifying information in conjunction with the content data; that is, staff could see only the information they needed to undertake the linking or analysis. For more information refer to the 'separation principle' on the National Statistical Service website.
All data preparation, linking and clerical review was performed using password-protected remote virtual servers located within the Census Data Processing Centre (DPC) environment.
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE'S IDENTIFICATION IN DIFFERENT DATA COLLECTION CONTEXTS
The Indigenous Mortality Project brings together data from two different data collection contexts, and two different respondents. The context in which Indigenous status information is being provided, and who is providing the information, can influence whether a person is identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (see the National Best Practice Guidelines for data linkage activities relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for general information on this).
The ABS conducted research in 2010 and 2012 to understand issues surrounding and contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's propensity to identify in different data collection contexts. This work took the form of focus groups, facilitated by external consultants in locations around Australia. The focus group research conducted in 2010 focused on identification in administrative data collections, and the 2012 research sought to understand identification behaviours in survey contexts.
Participants noted a wide range of factors influencing their decision to identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, including:
Detailed findings from the research is available in Perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Identification in Selected Data Collection Contexts, 2012 (cat. no. 4726.0).
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. Prior to 2007, Indigenous status was supplied to the ABS based on information recorded on death registration forms; that is, as reported by a relative or person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. 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 since 2007. 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.
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 (for example, their child) present in the dwelling on Census night. In the standard Census form (both e-forms and paper forms), Indigenous status is provided by the person completing the form, and in some instances may not be reported. In discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, an interview approach is used, with local people employed and trained to conduct interviews. The Interviewer uses the Interviewer Household Form to collect Census information verbally from a household member, resulting in a lower non-response rate for all items, including Indigenous status. In some urban areas, increased support and assistance is provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the option of providing Census information through an interview.
Differential reporting of Indigenous status on the death registration record and in the Census
In addition to differential reporting which may be due to people's propensity to identify themselves or others differently in different data collection contexts, there may be an increased risk of differential reporting of Indigenous status when different people report information that relates to the same person. Whilst there will be instances where death registration and Census information has been provided by the same person (e.g. a family member), it is also possible that Indigenous status may have been recorded by a person not close to the deceased person, which increases the likelihood of inconsistent Indigenous status information between data sources.
OTHER NATIONAL MORTALITY DATA LINKAGE PROJECTS ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare conducted a feasibility study that linked 2001–2006 death registrations with three other administrative data sources, using an 'ever-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' approach to determine Indigenous status. The feasibility study produced similar national level life expectancy estimates as the ABS' 2006 CDE Indigenous Mortality Project (Endnote 1).
A New Zealand project linked mortality records for Maori (or Pacific) peoples to Census records, with the aim of investigating numerator-denominator bias in the calculation of mortality rates (Endnote 2). The project found that mortality rates are subject to a numerator-denominator bias and recommended the use of age-specific adjustment ratios for correcting ethnicity-specific mortality rates (Endnote 2).
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012, An enhanced mortality database for estimating Indigenous life expectancy: a feasibility study, Cat. no. IHW 75. Canberra: AIHW. <www.aihw.gov.au>.
2. Ajwani, S., Blakely, T., Robson, B., Atkinson, J. and Kiro, C. 2003 'Unlocking the numerator-denominator bias III: adjustment ratios by ethnicity for 1981–1999 mortality data. The New Zealand Census-Mortality Study,' The New Zealand Medical Journal Vol 116 No 1175. <www.nzma.org.nz>.
3302.0.55.005 - Information Paper: Death registrations to Census linkage project - Key Findings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2011-2012
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