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The Australian population enjoys good health by world standards, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher death rates than non-Indigenous Australians across all age groups. In 1999-2003, for Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where approximately 60% of the Indigenous population reside, the overall rates of mortality for Indigenous males and females were almost three times those for non-Indigenous males and females. Indigenous Australians also had higher rates of mortality from all major causes of death. While the difference between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations is very large, the exact magnitude cannot be established at this time, because of the incomplete recording of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status on death records. This limitation restricts precise analysis of the data and presents difficulties for the monitoring of mortality trends over time. However, it is still possible to provide some measures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality, and to make some comparisons with the mortality of non-Indigenous Australians.