1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Standardised death rate(a)
Graph Image for Standardised death rate(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Standardised death rate per 1,000 population. The standard population is the 2001 Australian estimated resident population.

Source(s): ABS Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001); ABS Deaths, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3302.0)

Selected leading causes of death(a) - standardised death rates(b) - 1998 and 2008
Graph Image for Selected leading causes of death(a) - standardised death rates(b) - 1998 and 2008

Footnote(s): (a) Causes listed are the leading causes of death in 2008, based on total number of deaths. See Health datacube for more information. (b) Standardised death rate per 100,000 population. The standard population is the 2001 Australian estimated resident population. (c) Ischaemic heart disease. (d) Dementia and Alzheimer's disaese.

Source(s): ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3303.0)


Information on causes of death provides insights into the diseases that contribute to changes in life expectancy. The leading causes of death have changed over the last century with significant decreases in the rate of infectious diseases, and increases in the rate of chronic conditions. In 2008, heart disease and cancers were Australia's leading causes of death.

In recent years (from 2005-2008) Australia's standardised death rate has remained at 6.0 deaths per 1,000 population. However, in the previous decades there was a general decline in Australia's standardised death rate, from 12.7 deaths per 1,000 in 1971 to 6.3 in 2004. Men have consistently higher death rates than women, although the gap has narrowed in recent years (ABS 2008a).

Advances in medical technology, public health measures (including the earlier detection of some illnesses) and healthier lifestyles have contributed to declines in the standardised death rates from some of the leading causes of death. For example, between 1998 and 2008 there have been decreases in the standardised death rates for Ischaemic heart disease as well as for Stroke, which were Australia's top two leading causes of death during that period. The standardised death rate for Ischaemic heart disease fell from 162.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 1998 to 96.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2008, while deaths from Stroke fell from 71.6 deaths per 100,000 population to 48.5 deaths per 100,000. Over the same period, the standardised death rate for Dementia and Alzheimer's disease increased by two thirds (67%) from 19.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1998 to 32.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2008 and was Australia's third leading cause of death in 2008.

Causes of death are also strongly linked to a person's age, with the risk of death increasing with age. Age-specific death rates for 2008 show that External causes of death (including Transport accidents and Suicide) were among the main causes of death for people under 45 years of age. For example, Suicide contributed to over one-fifth of deaths of both people aged 15-24 years (22%) and those aged 25-34 years (21%), but contributed only 6% of deaths of people aged 45-54 years. Death rates from External causes were much higher for men than for women. For those aged 45 years and over, Cancers and Diseases of the circulatory system became the main causes of death, with men typically having higher age specific death rates than women for these conditions (ABS 2010a).


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