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The estimates of life expectancy presented here are drawn from the Australian life tables, 1998-2000, and the Experimental Indigenous Abridged Life Tables, 1996-2001 (ABS 2004b). Life expectancy refers to the average number of years a person of a given age and sex can expect to live, if current age-sex-specific death rates continue to apply throughout his or her lifetime. A 'life table' is created from age-specific death rates that are used to calculate values which measure mortality, survivorship and life expectancy. To construct a life table, data on total population, births and deaths are needed, and the accuracy of the life table depends upon the completeness of these data. Because of uncertainty about the estimates of these components for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, experimental methods are used to calculate life expectancies for the Indigenous population. These experimental life expectancies should only be used as an indicative summary measure of the level of mortality of the Indigenous population.