1 This release contains statistics for deaths and mortality. Detailed information can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) and ABS.Stat datasets available electronically, from the Data downloads tab.
2 Estimated Resident Populations (ERP) used in this release are based on the results of the 2016 Census and are as follows:
- State, Territory and Australia level ERP for 2019 (preliminary status), released in Australian Demographic Statistics, June Quarter, 2019 (cat. no. 3101.0) issued on 19 December 2019
- Sub-state ERP for 2019 (revised status), released in Regional population by Age and Sex, Australia, 2019 (cat. no. 3235.0) issued on 28 August 2020
- Local Government Area ERP for 2012-2019 based on the 2020 edition of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 3 - Non ABS Structures (cat. no. 1270.0.55.003)
- Country of Birth ERP for 2019 (preliminary status), released in Migration, Australia, 2018-19 (cat. no. 3412.0) issued on 28 April 2020
- Indigenous ERP for 2012-2019 published in Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 to 2031 (cat. no. 3238.0) issued on 11 July 2019.
Scope and coverage
3 Statistics in this release relate to the number of deaths registered during the calendar year shown, unless otherwise stated. Statistics relating to deaths by year of occurrence can be obtained from ABS.Stat datasets available electronically, from the Data downloads tab.
Scope of death statistics
4 The ABS Death Registrations collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose place of usual residence was overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS death statistics. However, deaths of identified Australian diplomats while overseas are included, see paragraph 5 for further information.
5 The scope of the statistics includes:
- all deaths being registered for the first time
- deaths of temporary visitors to Australia (including visitors from Norfolk Island)
- deaths that occurred within Australian Territorial waters
- deaths that occurred in Australian Antarctic Territories or other external territories
- Deaths occurred on Norfolk Island from 1 July 2016 are included in this publication. This is due to the introduction of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015. Norfolk Island deaths are included in statistics for 'Other Territories' as well as totals for all of Australia. Deaths occurring on Norfolk Island prior to 1 July 2016 were not in scope for death statistics
- deaths that occurred in transit (i.e. on ships or planes) if registered in the Australian state or territory of 'next port of call'
- deaths of Australian nationals employed overseas at Australian legations and consular offices (i.e. deaths of Australian diplomats while overseas) where able to be identified
- deaths that occurred in earlier years that have not previously been registered (late registrations).
6 The scope of the statistics excludes:
- still births/fetal deaths (these are included in perinatal death statistics published in Causes of Death, Australia, (cat. no. 3303.0), and previously, Perinatal Deaths, Australia, (cat. no. 3304.0));
- repatriation of human remains of those whose death occurred overseas; and
- deaths of foreign diplomatic staff in Australia (where able to be identified).
7 Prior to 2007, the scope for the reference year of the Death Registrations collection included:
- deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the reference year
- deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year
- deaths registered during the two years prior to the reference year but not received by the ABS until the reference year.
8 From 2007 onwards, the scope for each reference year of the Death Registrations collection includes:
- deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the reference year
- deaths registered in the reference year and received by the ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year
- deaths registered in the years prior to the reference year but not received by the ABS until the reference year or the first quarter of the subsequent year, provided that these records have not been included in any statistics from earlier periods.
Coverage of death statistics
9 Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of deaths should be recorded as all those occurring within a given reference period such as a calendar year. Due to lags in registration of deaths and the provision of that information to the ABS from the state and territory Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM), data are presented on a year of registration basis, unless otherwise stated.
10 In effect, there are three dates attributable to each death registration:
- the date of occurrence (of the death)
- the date of registration or inclusion on the state/territory register
- the month and year in which the registered event is provided to the ABS.
11 Marital status relates to the registered marital status of the deceased at the time of death and refers to formally registered marriages or divorces for which a certificate is held.
12 From 2007 onwards, the categories of separated but not divorced and marital status not stated are also included in total deaths.
13 This issue of Deaths includes data cubes containing death and mortality statistics on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) and the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). For further information refer to:
14 Registration of deaths is the responsibility of the state and territory RBDM. Information about the deceased is acquired from a Death Registration Form (DRF) which is completed by the funeral director, based on information supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred. As part of the registration process, information on the cause of death is either supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD), or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation. This information is provided to the ABS by individual Registrars for coding and compilation into aggregate statistics shown 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.
State and territory data
15 As a result of an amendment made in 1992 to section 17(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1973 (Cwlth) the Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included as part of geographic Australia, 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. From 1 July 2016, 'Other Territories' also include Norfolk Island following the introduction of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015.
16 Prior to 1993, deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island or Cocos (Keeling) Islands were included with Off-Shore Areas and Migratory in Western Australia, while deaths of persons usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory were included with the Australian Capital Territory. In 2019, there were 6 deaths of persons usually resident in Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands or Jervis Bay Territory, and 23 deaths of persons usually resident in Norfolk Island.
17 Death statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented according to the state or territory of usual residence of the deceased, regardless of where in Australia the death occurred and was registered, except where otherwise stated. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics, with the exception of Australian diplomats, where identified.
18 In the following table, data is presented on both a state or territory of registration and state or territory of usual residence basis. Deaths which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics, with the exception of Australian diplomats, where identified. Deaths of persons who were usual residents of Australia's Other Territories (Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island) cannot be registered in Other Territories but are registered in other Australian states and territories.
Deaths, State or territory of usual residence and state or territory of registration - 2019
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells).
a. Includes Other Territories.
19 In 2019, there were 415 deaths registered in Australia of persons 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 death was registered.
|State or territory of registration||2,014||2,015||2,016||2,017||2,018||2,019|
Calculation of standardised death rates (SDRs)
20 SDRs for the total population for Australia and state/territory are based on death registration data for the reference year only.
21 SDRs for Australia, state/territory and sub-state/territory by Indigenous status are averaged using data for the three years, ending in the reference year. They are calculated for each calendar year and then averaged.
22 In compiling death statistics, the ABS employs a variety of measures to improve the quality of the death registrations collection. While every opportunity is taken to ensure that the highest quality of statistics are provided, the following are known issues associated with the statistics included in this release.
23 In 2019, there was an increase of 10,808 deaths compared with the number of deaths registered in 2018. All jurisdictions except the Australian Capital Territory recorded an increase. Victoria had the largest increase (5,713 deaths). As a result of joint investigations between the ABS and the Victorian Registry, 2,812 death registrations from 2017, 2018 and 2019 were identified that had not previously been provided to the ABS. Of the 2,812 deaths, 40.4% were registered in 2017, 57.0% in 2018 and the remainder (2.6%) in 2019. An issue associated with the Registry's previous processing system (replaced in 2019) resulted in delays to the provision of some death registrations to the ABS. The 2,812 Victorian deaths are in scope of the 2019 reference year and are therefore included in this issue. New South Wales recorded the second largest increase (2,425 deaths) which reflected more timely registration of deaths, particularly those that occurred in November and December 2019.
Interval between occurrence and registration of deaths
24 For the most part, statistics in this release refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a death (referred to as a registration 'lag') and as a result, some deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay in the submission of a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the death. Deaths which occur in November and December are also likely to be registered in the following year.
|Year of occurrence||NSW (%)||Vic. (%)||Qld (%)||SA (%)||WA (%)||Tas. (%)||NT (%)||ACT (%)||Aust. (%)|
|2016 & earlier||-||0.3||0.1||0.1||-||0.1||0.6||-||0.1|
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
25 Of the 169,301 deaths registered in 2019, 92.1% (155,890) occurred in 2019, while 7.1% occurred in 2018 and the remainder occurred in 2017 or earlier years. Any instances where year of occurrence was recorded as unknown are included in the 2016 and earlier category.
Unknown infant age at death
26 For some infant deaths, only limited information for age at death is known. These deaths are included in the following categories:
- not stated minutes and not stated hours (i.e. age at death was under one day) are included in 'Under one day'
- not stated days (i.e. age at death was at least one day but under one month) are included in 'One week to under four weeks'
- not stated months (i.e. age at death was at least one month but under one year) are included in 'Four weeks to under one year'.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
27 Registration of deaths is the responsibility of the state and territory RBDM. Information about the deceased is acquired from the DRF. All states and territories use information from the DRF to identify an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander death. In addition, some states and territories also use the MCCD to identify an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander death. In 2007, the MCCD was introduced in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages introduced the MCCD in 2015. This resulted in a noticeable decrease in the number of deaths for which the Indigenous status was 'not stated' and an increase in the number of deaths identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in Queensland. If the Indigenous status reported in the DRF does not agree with that in the MCCD, an identification from either source that the deceased was an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander is given preference over non-Indigenous.
28 While it is considered likely that most deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are registered, a proportion of these deaths are not reported as such by the family, health worker or funeral director during the death registration process. That is, whilst data is provided to the ABS for the Indigenous status question (99.2% of all deaths registered in 2019), there are concerns regarding the accuracy of the data. The funeral director may not always directly ask the Indigenous status question of the deceased's relatives and friends.
29 The number of registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included for all jurisdictions. However, due to the data quality issues outlined below, detailed disaggregations of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are provided only for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The 'total' variable in detailed disaggregations is an aggregation of the four states and the Northern Territory (Total five state/territory).
30 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they or the persons for whom they are reporting are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. However, the results are not always consistent, the main reason being the changes in identification. Identification levels vary across datasets, jurisdictions and time.
31 People change their identification for a range of factors, including:
- how the information is collected (e.g. Census, survey, or administrative data)
- who provides the information (e.g. the person in question, a relative, a health professional, or an official)
- the perception of why the information is required, and how it will be used
- education programs about reporting as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- cultural aspects and feelings associated with reporting as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
32 In addition to those deaths recorded as either Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-Indigenous, a number of deaths occur each year where Indigenous status is not stated on the DRF. In 2019, there were 1,362 deaths registered in Australia for whom Indigenous status was not stated, representing 0.8% of all deaths registered.
33 Data presented in this release may therefore underestimate the level of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and mortality in Australia. Lags in registrations may also affect the reliability of measures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality. Caution should be exercised when interpreting data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples presented in this release, especially with regard to year-to-year changes.
34 Due to the ongoing concern about the mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples relative to the total population, a number of projects have been undertaken to investigate the quality of these data. These include:
- investigations by the ABS through the Indigenous Mortality Study as part of the Census Data Enhancement Project to investigate the consistency of Indigenous status reporting between death registrations and the Census. See Information Paper: Death registrations to Census linkage project - Key findings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, 2011- 2012 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.005), released 15 November 2013.
- improvements undertaken by the Queensland RBDM in December quarter 2010 finalised death registrations where there was previously incomplete information. As part of the registration of outstanding deaths initiative, 374 deaths were registered, of which approximately 76% were deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. See Technical Note in the Explanatory Notes tab of Deaths, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3302.0) for more information.
- ABS investigations into the unusual volatility in the number of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples registered in Western Australia in the years 2007 to 2009.
- ongoing data integration projects undertaken by several state and territory government departments using health and death records.
Causes of death
35 Causes of death information is published under the 3303.0 product family. For more information see Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables, 2012 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001), and Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).
36 Life tables information previously released in Deaths (cat. no. 3302.0) is now released in Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001).
37 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.
38 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 very minor adjustments allow for a greater amount of data to be released, and as they are small, do not affect the utility of the data.
39 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.
40 Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, including supporting the careful design of forms, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.
41 The ABS' releases draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. The efforts of each state and territory's RBDM to improve the data quality, coverage and timeliness of death registration information, processes and systems are noted and valued by the ABS. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.
42 Other ABS products which may be of interest to users include:
- ABS Directions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (cat. no. 4700.0)
- Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)
- Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)
- Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001)
- Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure (cat. no. 1270.0.55.005)
- Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0)
- Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0)
- Causes of Death, Australia: Doctor Certified Deaths, Summary Tables (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001)
- Census Data Enhancement Project: An Update (cat. no. 2062.0)
- Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3238.0)
- Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3238.0.55.001)
- Information Paper: ABS Causes of Death Statistics: Concepts, Sources, and Methods (cat. no. 3317.0.55.002)
- Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement - Indigenous Mortality Quality Study (cat. no. 4723.0)
- Life Tables (cat. nos. 3302.0.55.001-3302.8.55.001)
- Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003)
- Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia (cat. no. 3302.0.55.001)
- Perinatal Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3304.0)
- Regional Population by Age and Sex, Australia (cat. no. 3235.0)
- Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0.55.001)
- Population Projections, Australia (cat. no. 3222.0)
- Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (cat. no. 1269.0)
- The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (cat. no. 4704.0).
43 ABS products and releases are available free of charge from the ABS website http://www.abs.gov.au. Click on Statistics to gain access to the full range of ABS statistical and reference information.
Additional statistics available
44 More detailed death and mortality statistics can be obtained from ABS.Stat datasets and data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) available electronically, from the Data downloads tab of this release.
- Median age at death, Year of occurrence, States, Territories and Australia, 2009 to 2019
- Deaths, Summary, Statistical Area Level 4, 2012 to 2019
- Deaths, Summary, Statistical Area Level 2, 2012 to 2019
- Deaths, Summary, Local Government Areas, 2012 to 2019
- Deaths, Summary, Remoteness Areas, 2012 to 2019
- Deaths, Year of registration, Summary data, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 1971 onwards
- Deaths, Year of registration, Age at death, Age-specific death rates, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 1971 onwards
- Deaths, Year of registration, Age at death, Sex, Australia, 1971 onwards
- Deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, Age-specific death rates, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 1971 onwards
- Deaths, Year of registration, Marital status, Age at death, Sex, Australia, 1971 onwards
- Infant deaths and Infant mortality rates, Year of registration, Age at death, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 1975 onwards
- Deaths, Year of registration, Indigenous status, Summary data, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 2001 onwards
- Deaths and infant deaths, Year and month of occurrence, Sex, States, Territories and Australia, 2001 onwards
- Deaths, Year of registration, Indigenous status, Age at death, Sex, Five State/Territory, 2001 onwards
- Infant deaths, Year of occurrence, Age at death, Sex, Australia, 2001 onwards.
46 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details the products to be released in the week ahead.