3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2007 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/03/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All


Age-specific death rate

Age-specific death rates (ASDRs) are the number of deaths (occurred or registered) during the calendar year at a specified age per 100,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age, at the mid-point of the year (30 June). Pro rata adjustment is made in respect of deaths for which the age of the deceased is not given.

Associated causes

All causes listed on a death certificate other than the underlying cause.

Certifier type

Deaths may be certified by either a medical practitioner 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, for example unaccompanied deaths.

Coroner certified deaths

Deaths which are certified by a coroner.

Country of birth

The classification of countries used is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). For more detailed information refer to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (cat. no. 1269.0).

Crude death rate

The crude death rate (CDR) is the number of deaths registered during the calendar year per 100,000 estimated resident population at 30 June. For years prior to 1992, the crude death rate was based on the mean estimated resident population for the calendar year.


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.

Estimated resident population (ERP)

The official measure of the population of Australia is based on the concept of residence. It refers to all people, regardless of nationality or citizenship, who usually live in Australia, with the exception of foreign diplomatic personnel and their families. It includes usual residents who are overseas for less than 12 months. It excludes overseas visitors who are in Australia for less than 12 months.

External causes of death

Deaths due to causes external to the body (for example suicide, transport accidents, falls, poisoning etc).

External territories

Australian external territories include Australian Antarctic Territory, Coral Sea Islands Territory, Norfolk Island, Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, and Territory of Heard and McDonald Islands.


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, paragraphs 18-21 for more information on ICD. Further information also is available from the WHO website www.who.int


Persons who identify themselves as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Indigenous death

The death of a person who is identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) origin on the Death Registration Form (DRF). From 2007, Indigenous origin for deaths registered in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory is also derived from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD).

Indirect standardised death rate (ISDR)

See Standardised death rate (SDR).

Main English-speaking countries

This refers to the main countries from which Australia receives, or has received, significant numbers of overseas settlers who are likely to speak English. These countries comprise the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and the United States of America. All other countries are classified as Non Main English-speaking countries.



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 (for example, injury or poisoning, etc) 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

Following the 1992 amendments to the Acts Interpretation Act to include the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands as part of geographic Australia, another category at the state and territory level has been created, known as 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.

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.

Standardised death rate (SDR)

Standardised death rates (SDRs) enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures by relating them to a standard population. The ABS standard populations relate to the years ending in 1 (e.g. 2001). The current standard population is all persons in the Australian population at 30 June 2001. SDRs are expressed per 1,000 or 100,000 persons. There are two methods of calculating standardised death rates:

The direct method - this is used when the populations under study are large and the age-specific death rates are reliable. It is the overall death rate that would have prevailed in the standard population if it had experienced at each age the death rates of the population under study.

The indirect method - this is used when the populations under study are small and the age-specific death rates are unreliable or not known. It is an adjustment to the crude death rate of the standard population to account for the variation between the actual number of deaths in the population under study and the number of deaths which would have occurred if the population under study had experienced the age-specific death rates of the standard population.

Wherever used, the definition adopted is indicated.

State or territory of registration

State or territory of registration refers to the state or territory in which the death was registered.

State or territory of usual residence

State or territory of usual residence refers to the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased.

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.

Usual residence

Usual residence within Australia refers to that address at which the person has lived or intends to live for a total of six months or more in a given reference year.

Year of occurrence

Data presented on year of occurrence basis relate to the date the death occurred rather than when it was registered with the relevant state or territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Year of registration

Data presented on year of registration basis relate to the date the death was registered with the relevant state or territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Years of potential life lost (YPLL)

YPLL measures the extent of 'premature' mortality, where 'premature' mortality is assumed to be any death at ages of 1-78 years inclusive. By estimating YPLL for deaths of people aged 1-78 years it is possible to assess the significance of specific diseases or trauma as a cause of premature death. See Technical Note for an explanation of the calculation of YPLL.