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4 The scope of the statistics excludes:
5 The scope for each reference year of the Birth Registrations collection includes:
6 Birth records received by the ABS during the March quarter of 2016, which were registered in 2015, were assigned to the 2015 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2015 which were received by the ABS from April 2016 were assigned to the 2016 reference year and will be reported in the next iteration of this publication.
7 Prior to 2007, the scope for the reference year of the Birth Registrations collection included:
Coverage of birth statistics
8 Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of births should be recorded as all those occurring within a given reference period such as a calendar year. Due to lags in registration of births and the provision of that information to the ABS from state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages, data in this release are presented on a year of registration basis.
9 There are three dates attributable to each birth registration:
10 Data in this release are presented according to date of registration, unless otherwise stated. The registration date differs between states and territories, and should be taken into account when analysing birth statistics:
11 Nuptiality relates to the registered marital status of the parent(s) of the child at the time of birth. Confinements and births are classified as:
12 Ex-nuptial births and confinements are further classified as paternity acknowledged (where the father signed the birth registration form) or paternity not acknowledged (where the father did not sign the birth registration form).
13 This issue of Births, Australia includes data cubes containing birth and fertility statistics on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition.
14 For further information refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, July 2016 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001) and Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (cat. no. 1269.0).
15 Registration of births is the responsibility of state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and is based on data provided on an information form completed by the parent(s) of the child. This form is the basis of data provided to the ABS by the Registries for compilation into aggregate statistics in this release. Core data items are collected in all states and territories and therefore statistics at the national level are available for key characteristics. Some states collect additional information.
16 Hospitals and birth clinics notify state and territory registries of recent births on a regular basis. For births where a notification has been received by a registry, but has not been registered within the prescribed time period, parents are contacted by reminder letters and/or phone calls.
State and territory data
17 As a result of an amendment made in 1992 to section 17(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1973 (Commonwealth), the Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included as part of geographic Australia since 1993, hence another category of the state and territory classification has been created. This category is known as 'Other Territories' and includes Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory.
18 Prior to 1993, births to mothers usually resident in Christmas Island or Cocos (Keeling) Islands were included with Offshore areas and Migratory in Western Australia, while births to mothers usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory were included with the Australian Capital Territory. In 2015, there were 37 births to mothers usually resident in Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, or Jervis Bay Territory.
19 Birth statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented according to the state or territory of usual residence of the mother regardless of where in Australia the birth occurred and was registered, except where otherwise stated. In the following table, data are presented on both a state or territory of registration basis and usual residence basis. Births which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics. Births to mothers who were usual residents of Australia's Other Territories (Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory) cannot be registered in Other Territories but are registered in other Australian states and territories.
20 In 2015, there were 459 births registered in Australia to women who usually lived overseas. These have been included in this release with state or territory of usual residence classified according to the state or territory in which the birth was registered.
Sub-state/territory fertility rates
21 Age-specific and total fertility rates for sub-state/territory regions (for example, Statistical Areas Level 2) presented in this release are average rates for three years ending in the reference year. Rates for Australia and the states and territories in all other tables are based on birth registration data for the reference year only.
Interval between occurrence and registration of births
22 There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a birth (referred to as a registration 'lag') and as a result, some births occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay by the parent(s) in submitting a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the birth. Births which occur in November and December are also likely to be registered in the following year.
23 Of the 305,377 births registered in Australia in 2015, 83.4% occurred in 2015, 13.4% occurred in 2014 and the remainder (3.3%) occurred in 2013 or earlier years.
Effects of registration lags on multiple birth statistics
24 In recent years there have been small number of twin and higher order births from the same confinement that are registered in different reference years. Due to this reason, the number of twin and higher order births registered in a reference year may not match the number of such confinements registered in that year. For more information on the coverage of a reference year, see paragraph 5.
Registration lags in Queensland
25 As a result of changes in the timeliness of registration of births in Queensland, care should be taken when interpreting changes in Queensland births between 2005 and 2010. This lag has reduced in recent years, indicating improvements in the timeliness of registration of births in Queensland.
26 The December quarter of 2009 also saw the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages devoting significant time and resources to follow-up and finalise birth registrations where there was previously incomplete information. As part of the 'Retrospective Births Project', 1,780 births were registered, with approximately 40% registered as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births. This project is now complete.
New South Wales births registered in 2014 and 2015
27 In June 2014, the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (NSW Registry) transitioned to a new data processing system which resulted in temporary processing delays. These delays caused a number of birth records received by the NSW Registry in 2014 to be processed in 2015. As a result, the total number of births registered in New South Wales in 2014 (91,074) was 9,388 (9.3%) less than the number registered in 2013 (100,462).
For a more complete understanding of the births occurring in NSW for 2014 users should consult Table 13 in Australian Demographic Statistics (3301.0) as well as the dataset Births, by year and month of occurrence, by state (in this publication).
Analysis by the ABS showed that the distribution of important characteristics such as sex of child, age of mother, usual residence of mother and Indigenous status in 2014 data is similar to that in 2011-2013 data.
28 The delayed birth registrations contributed to the increase of 9,005 registrations between 2014 and 2015. There was a greater registration lag, indicated by the high proportion of births registered in New South Wales in 2015 that occurred in 2014. After taking account of the extra lag, a decline in registrations after 2013 is still apparent.
Tasmanian birth registrations
29 The Tasmanian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 requires hospitals, doctors, midwives or other responsible persons to provide the Tasmanian Registry with a list of babies born containing basic information such as date of birth and sex of the baby. In the case of a live birth, the birth notification must be provided within 21 days of the birth. These notifications have been provided to the ABS since 2002 and are also used in producing quarterly population estimates.
30 Under the Act, the birth of a child must also be registered by lodging a birth registration statement with the Registry within 60 days after the date of birth of the child. Once the parent(s) submits the birth registration statement, the record is updated and the Registry provides the ABS with a complete registration record. Where a match between a birth notification and birth registration statement is identified, the record is quality assured to ensure completeness of the record.
31 Prior to 2007, records for which a birth registration form was not received were coded as 'ex-nuptial, paternity not acknowledged'. As a result, the number of ex-nuptial births in Tasmania may be overstated for 2002 to 2006. Since 2007 these records have been excluded from all nuptiality statistics. Since 2013 the ABS no longer received birth notifications, and therefore there are no more unmatched birth registration forms.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births and fertility rates
32 The ABS Birth Registrations collection records a birth as being an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander birth where at least one parent reported themselves as being an Aboriginal person, Torres Strait Islander, or both on the birth registration form. Therefore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births may be attributed to either:
33 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian. The results are not always consistent. The likelihood that a person will report, or be recorded, as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian on a specific form is known as their propensity to identify.
34 Propensity to identify and be recorded as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian is determined by a range of factors, including:
35 Data in this release may therefore underestimate the level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births and the reliability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility in Australia. Lags in registrations may also affect reliability of measures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility. Caution should be exercised when interpreting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data in this release, especially with regard to annual change.
Registration of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander births in New South Wales
36 From 2006 to 2013, the Indigenous status of the mother and father for births registered in New South Wales was inconsistent with other jurisdictions. Specifically, where one parent was an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian, the other parent was processed as either 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' or 'Not stated'. Furthermore, where one parent was 'Non-Indigenous', the other parent was processed as 'Non-Indigenous' or 'Not stated'. The Indigenous status of the child, where the birth was registered in New South Wales, was derived from the Indigenous status of either of the parents. The Indigenous status of births registered in New South Wales from 2006 to 2013 should therefore be interpreted with caution. The New South Wales Registry has since changed their processing rules and registration data since 2014 is consistent with the rest of Australia.
37 The ABS has investigated recent annual variability in the number of births of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In 2015, 115 births were to mothers who reported themselves as being an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australian (0.9% of children to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers), and who were born overseas. Since 2008, these instances have accounted for less than 1.5% of annual births to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander mothers. Of these births in 2015, 66% were to mothers born in neighbouring countries in the Pacific, such as New Zealand, Samoa and Papua New Guinea, and of these the majority (52 births) were to mothers who reported themselves as being Torres Strait Islander, or both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander on the birth registration form. This may indicate that these mothers are seeking to report their Pacific Islander ancestry (for which provision is not made in the Birth Registration Statement forms in Australia) rather than reporting to be Torres Strait Islanders. However, the 9 births to mothers born in Papua New Guinea in 2015 who reported being Torres Strait Islanders may be correctly recorded. The ABS continues to monitor this and work with Registries to improve quality assurance around these data. However, caution should be exercised when interpreting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data presented in this release.
38 This release reports on the number and characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births and fertility rates in each state and territory, excluding the Australian Capital Territory and Other Territories. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data for the Australian Capital Territory and Other Territories are not analysed separately due to small numbers, but are included in totals for Australia.
39 The populations used to calculate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility rates in this release are estimates and projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female population aged 15-49 years, based on results of the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. For more information see Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2001 to 2026 (cat. no. 3238.0).
40 Estimates of annual numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births in Australia are available from two collections:
41 Alternatively, it is also possible to derive indirect estimates and projections of numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births, based on 2011 Census-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates:
Edits and imputations
42 During editing processes for the Birth Registrations collection, some items are corrected where they conflict with other known information. Missing data for some data items are imputed when appropriate. In 2015, there were 2,317 birth registrations for which place of usual residence was imputed, and 32 registrations for which sex was not reported and was imputed.
Parity (previous children of mother)
43 Parity refers to the number of (live) births that a woman has had. Birth order refers to whether a birth is the first, second, third or higher-order birth of the mother. When registering births, information is collected on the number of previous children born to a mother.
44 Changes in ABS processing of birth registrations from 2007 have improved information on previous births to mothers. Prior to 2007, the ABS published information on previous births of the mother from the current relationship only, for all states and territories. From 2007 onwards, data on previous births for all relationships (both current and previous, if any) of the mother have been collected for all states and territories, except Victoria and Queensland. As a result, Australian parity figures in this release exclude data for Victoria and Queensland. From 2007 to 2012, Australian parity figures also excluded Tasmania, as blank responses to the previous births question were regarded as 'not stated'. The Tasmanian Registry has advised the ABS that these records should be interpreted as '0 previous children'. This is reflected in the table below where these records have been re-categorised for all years.
45 These data are collected as a result of the demand for parity data for analysis and dissemination. For more information on the use of parity data and collection methods associated with these statistics, see Corr, P. and Kippen, R. 2006, The Case for Parity and Birth-Order Statistics, Australia and New Zealand Journal of Statistics, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 171-200.
46 As a result of the above changes, data on previous births for 2007 onwards are not comparable with data for earlier years. However, the improved information indicates that the prevalence of first births (that is, mothers with no previous children) was overestimated prior to 2007, while numbers of mothers with two or more previous children were underestimated.
47 Australian parity figures are not available for the 2014 and 2015 registration years due to parity data being not available for New South Wales, and given that Victoria and Queensland are already excluded. New South Wales data for 2014 and 2015 is not available as a result of the processing changes described in paragraph 27 and 28.
Age of parent(s)
48 During birth registration processing since 2007, discrepancies were identified between age of mother data and age of mother derived from date of birth of mother as provided to the ABS by the Registries. In 2015, there were 80 records for which the derived age of mother was found to be inconsistent with the reported age. For these records, the derived age of mother was used. The same process was applied to information on age of father, for which 52 records were affected. For years prior to 2007, median age may have been overstated.
49 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.
50 Where necessary, tables in this release have had small values suppressed or randomised to protect confidentiality. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals. These adjustments allow for a greater amount of detailed data to be released, and, as they are small, do not affect the utility of the data.
51 Calculations as shown in the commentary sections of this release are based on unrounded figures. Calculations undertaken by data users using rounded figures may differ from those released. Where figures have been rounded in tables, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.
52 The ABS' releases draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. The ABS values the efforts of each state and territory's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to improve the data quality, coverage and timeliness of birth registration information, processes and systems. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
ADDITIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE
53 As well as the statistics included in this and related releases, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
54 Other relevant publications include Australia's Mothers and Babies (AIHW 2015. Australia's mothers and babies 2013 - in brief. Perinatal statistics series no. 31. Cat. no. PER 72. Canberra: AIHW), available from the AIHW website. Please note there are differences between the ABS and AIHW birth collections; these are discussed in Appendix: Differences Between Collections.
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