3303.0.55.001 - Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/12/2010   
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Certifier Type

Deaths may be certified by either a medical practitioner (doctor) using the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or a coroner. Natural causes are predominantly certified by doctors, whereas External and Unknown causes are usually certified by a coroner. However, some deaths for natural causes are referred to coroners for investigation, even though there may be no suspicious circumstances.

Coroner Certified Deaths

Deaths which are certified by a coroner. Although there is variation in what constitutes a death that is reportable to a coroner across jurisdictions, they are generally reported in circumstances such as:

  • where the person died unexpectedly and the cause of death is unknown;
  • where the person died in a violent or unnatural manner;
  • where the person died during or as a result of an anaesthetic;
  • where the person was 'held in care' or in custody immediately before they died; and
  • where the identity of the person who has died is otherwise unknown.


Death is the permanent disappearance of all evidence of life after birth has taken place. The definition excludes all deaths prior to live birth. For the purposes of the Deaths and Causes of Death collections of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a death refers to any death which occurs in, or en route to Australia and is registered with a state or territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Doctor Certified Deaths

Deaths which were certified by a doctor or medical practitioner, which were not required to be referred to a coroner.

External Causes of Death

Deaths due to causes external to the body (for example suicide, transport accidents, falls, poisoning etc). Applicable ICD-10 codes are: V01-Y98.


International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The purpose of the ICD is to permit the systematic recording, analysis, interpretation and comparison of mortality and morbidity data collected in different countries or areas and at different times. The ICD, which is endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is primarily designed for the classification of diseases and injuries with a formal diagnosis. See Explanatory Notes 18 - 22 for more information on ICD. Further information is also available from the WHO website.


The condition of being mortal or subject to death.

Multiple Causes of Death

All morbid conditions, diseases and injuries entered on the death certificate. These include those involved in the morbid train of events leading to death which were classified as either the underlying cause, the immediate cause, or any intervening causes and those conditions which contributed to death, but were not related to the disease or condition causing death. For deaths where the underlying cause was identified as an external cause (injury or poisoning) multiple causes include circumstances of injury, the nature of injury as well as any other conditions reported on the death certificate.

Natural Cause of Death

Deaths due to diseases (for example diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc), which are not external or unknown.

Other Territories

Other Territories include Jervis Bay Territory, previously included with the Australian Capital Territory, as well as Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Reference Year

The year that presented data refers to. For example, this publication presents data for the 2009 reference year, as well as some historical data for the 2008 reference year. From 2007, data for a particular reference year includes all deaths registered in Australia for the reference year that are received by the ABS by the end of the March quarter of the subsequent year. For example, data for the 2009 reference year includes all deaths registered in Australia for 2009 that were received by the ABS by the end of March 2010. See Explanatory Notes 6 - 14 for more information about scope and coverage.

Sex Ratio

The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females. The sex ratio is defined for total population, at birth, at death and among age groups by appropriately selecting the numerator and denominator of the ratio.

State or Territory of Registration

State or territory of registration refers to the state or territory in which the death was registered. It is the state or territory in which the death occurred, but is not necessarily the deceased's state or territory of usual residence.

State or Territory of Usual Residence

State or territory of usual residence refers to the state or territory in which the person lived, or intended to live, for a total of six months or more in a given reference year.

Underlying Cause of Death

The disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death. Accidental and violent deaths are classified according to the external cause, that is, to the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury rather than to the nature of the injury.

Unknown Cause of Death

Deaths where it is unable to be determined whether the cause was natural or external.