Provisional Mortality Statistics

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Provisional deaths data for measuring changes in patterns of mortality

Reference period
Jan - Apr 2023

Key statistics

  • There were 14,495 deaths which occurred in April 2023. This is 2.4% less than in April 2022.

  • The death rate for April 2023 was 40.3 per 100,000 people. This compares to a rate of 42.6 in 2022.
  • COVID-19 caused 581 deaths in May, up from 406 in April (see article)

Upcoming changes to the Provisional Mortality Statistics releases

From August 2023 there will be a scheduling change to the Provisional Mortality Statistics report and associated articles. Detailed Provisional Mortality reports will be released every 2 months instead of every month. The frequency of the ‘COVID-19 Mortality in Australia’ articles will also reduce. 

The ABS will still release simple summary mortality statistics every month. The format of these summary statistics will be confirmed in coming publications.

Full monthly reporting on deaths was needed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Director-General of the World Health Organization called an end to the emergency phase of the pandemic in May 2023. In line with this, the frequency of outputs can be reduced. Prior to the pandemic the ABS released information on causes of death annually.

Reducing the frequency of the Provisional Mortality Statistics publication will give the ABS capacity to provide official statistics on excess mortality every six months, rather than on the current ad hoc basis. The ABS released the article Measuring Australia's excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic until the first quarter 2023 on 19 July. It presents weekly and annual official excess mortality estimates for Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic until the first quarter 2023 for Australia and states and territories.

The release schedule for data products related to the Provisional Mortality Statistics report from August-December of 2023 is as follows:

  • August: Detailed Provisional Mortality Statistics report.
  • September: Summary mortality statistics only.
  • October: Detailed Provisional Mortality Statistics report.
  • November: Summary mortality statistics only.
  • December: Detailed Provisional Mortality Statistics report.
  • An article on excess mortality and articles on deaths associated with COVID-19 will also be released, with time frames to be confirmed.

Baseline comparisons

The purpose of a baseline is to provide a typical year (or combination of years) to compare the current year to. Deaths for 2023 will have two comparisons points - they will be compared to both deaths occurring in 2022 and a baseline period consisting of the average number of deaths occurring in the years of 2017-2019, 2021.

There were 190,775 deaths which occurred in 2022. This is significantly higher than usual and is not considered to be a typical year for mortality in Australia. Therefore 2022 has not been included in the baseline average and is instead presented separately in graphs and tables. The baseline average presented in this report remains as the average of the years 2017-19 and 2021. 2020 is not included in the baseline for 2022 data because it included periods where numbers of deaths were significantly lower than expected and is similarly not considered to be a typical year for mortality in Australia.  

These counts serve as a proxy for the expected number of deaths, so comparisons against baseline or the previous year can provide an indication of whether mortality is higher or lower than expected in a given year. The minimum and maximum baseline counts are also included to provide an indication of the range of previous years. Minimums and maximums for any given week can be from any of the years included in the baseline.

While this publication can provide an indication of where counts of deaths are above or below expectations, it does not provide official estimates of excess mortality. Using the number of deaths from the previous years as the predictor for the expected number of deaths does not take into account changes in population size and age-structures of that population, as well as expected improvements in mortality rates over time.

Official mortality estimates can be found in the article Measuring Australia's excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic until the first quarter 2023. It presents weekly and annual official excess mortality estimates for Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic until the first quarter 2023 for Australia and states and territories.

Age-standardised death rates can be accessed via the data downloads tab in this publication. 

Counts of deaths for 2015-2022 are included in the baseline data cubes of the data downloads section of this report. Customised baselines are able to be created from these data cubes. 

COVID-19 mortality

The ABS publishes two regular reports that provide preliminary information on mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, Provisional Mortality Statistics and COVID-19 Deaths in Australia articles. These reports provide information on different time periods and serve different purposes.

Provisional Mortality Statistics focus on monitoring patterns of mortality (by all-causes and specified leading causes of death) and highlight any changes potentially associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Data must be sufficiently complete to detect such changes, and as such these reports are only released once the majority of deaths that occurred in a particular period have been registered and reported.   

COVID-19 Mortality in Australia articles focus on all COVID-19 deaths registered and reported up until a specified time. These articles include important information about COVID-19 deaths, including demographic details, comorbidities and consequences of the disease. While it is recognised data will be incomplete, it can still indicate emerging trends or changes among these deaths. The most recent article on COVID-19 mortality covering deaths that occurred and were registered up until 30 June 2023 can be accessed through the articles link on this page. 

Australian deaths by week

All-cause deaths

Tracking the number of deaths against historical averages for similar time periods provides an initial indication of when a change in the pattern of mortality may occur. This is of particular relevance because of the many potential public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: There is a change in the way this graph is presented. Previously, 2022 deaths and 2022 deaths "excluding deaths from COVID-19" were presented against the baseline average and range. Deaths occurring in 2022 and 2023 are now presented separately in place of "deaths excluding deaths from COVID-19". Information on COVID-19 mortality is presented in both the "Mortality by selected causes" section and in the attached article "COVID-19 Mortality in Australia". 

For all deaths:

  • In 2023, there were 56,869 deaths that occurred by 30 April and were registered by 30 June. This is 6,220 deaths (12.3%) more than the baseline average, but 3,050 (5.1%) less than in 2022.
  • In April 2023 there were 14,495 deaths, 12.2% more than the baseline average but 2.4% less than in 2022.
  • 12,708 of the deaths occurring in April 2023 were doctor certified and 1,787 were coroner referred.
  • The age-standardised death rate (SDR) for April was 40.3 deaths per 100,000 people, lower than the baseline average (40.6) and the rate for 2022 (42.6). 

Deaths are presented by counts only. Counts of death do not account for changes in population. See data downloads for weekly and monthly age-standardised death rate calculations. 

  1. Data is by occurrence.
  2. Data is provisional and subject to change.
  3. Weeks are defined as seven-day periods which start on a Monday as per the ISO week date system. Refer to 'Weekly comparisons' on the methodology page of this publication for more information regarding the data in this graph.
  4. The baseline includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021.

Age-specific death rates

The following table shows age-specific death rates (deaths per 100,000 population) for different age groups by sex in April and for January to April 2023, presented with both those from 2022 and the baseline average.

April 2023

  • Across all age groups for both males and females, death rates were lower in April 2023 than in 2022 with the exception of females aged 65-74 years.
  • When compared with the baseline average, the overall crude death rates (all ages) for males and females for April 2023 were higher. This was also seen in age-specific rates for those in older age groups (85 years and over for males and the 65-74 years and 85 years and over age groups for females). For all other age groups, the April 2023 rate was lower than the baseline average.
  • For all age groups, the male death rate is higher than the female death rate, with the rate ratio being larger in the younger age groups.

Year to date, January to April 2023

  • For all persons, males and females in January to April 2023, the overall crude death rate and the age-specific rate for those aged 85 and over were higher than the baseline average but lower than the rate for the same period in 2022. This was also true for females aged 65-74 years. All other age groups had a lower death rate in 2023 than the baseline average or in 2022.
Age specific rates, 2023, 2022, Baseline
 AprilJanuary - April
 20232022baseline average20232022baseline average
85 and over1,031.4281,115.2991,013.1084,048.9644,465.2563,926.400
All ages54.42757.12050.974214.825231.327200.433
85 and over1,090.7361,190.8321,088.1574,316.6014,802.5914,233.922
All ages57.34259.88853.389227.128245.811210.517
85 and over991.7281065.806967.0073870.714245.0823737.269
All ages51.55454.39248.594202.705217.057190.485

a. Data is by occurrence.
b. Data is provisional and subject to change.
c. Doctor certified and coroner referred deaths are included.
d. The baseline includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021.
e. Age-specific death rates reflect deaths per 100,000 of the estimated resident population (ERP).

Mortality by selected causes of death

Cause-specific mortality

The following analysis is based only on doctor certified deaths (i.e. coroner referred deaths are not included). Any changes in patterns of coroner referral could affect counts of doctor certified deaths. Some conditions have higher coroner referral rates (ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases and to a lesser extent, respiratory diseases and diabetes) so counts for those conditions would be more likely to be affected by such changes.


  • In April 2023 there were 404 deaths due to COVID-19 that were certified by a doctor. This is 40.3% lower than the 677 deaths in April 2022 and 63.6% higher than the 247 deaths in March 2023.
  • There have been 1,576 deaths due to COVID-19 certified by a doctor between January and April 2023. This is 56.7% lower than the 3,641 deaths recorded in the same period in 2022.
  • As the pandemic has progressed the number of people dying 'with' COVID-19 has increased. In April 139 people died with COVID-19 as a contributing factor to their death (ie. COVID-19 was certified on the death certificate but it was not the underlying cause of death).

Other causes of death

  • Deaths due to dementia including Alzheimer's disease were 17.5% above the baseline average in April 2023, but 3.7% below April 2022. Dementia deaths in 2023 in January to April were 15.4% above the baseline average but 4.6% below the same period in 2022.
  • The age-standardised death rate for deaths due to dementia was 3.6 per 100,000 people in April 2023. This compares to a baseline average rate of 3.5 and a rate of 3.8 in April 2022. 
  • Deaths due to other cardiac conditions were 9.0% above the baseline average in April 2023 but 4.2% lower than April 2022. Other cardiac deaths in 2023 in January to April were 15.4% higher than baseline average and 0.5% higher than the same period in 2022.
  • The age-standardised death rate for deaths due to other cardiac conditions was 1.9 per 100,000 people in April 2023. This compares to a baseline average rate of 2.0 and a rate of 2.1 in April 2022.
  • Deaths due to diabetes were 10.7% above the baseline average in April 2023, and 3.1% below April 2022. Diabetes deaths in 2023 in January to April were 16.8% higher than baseline average but 3.3% below the same period in 2022.
  • The number of deaths due to cancer was 7.8% above the baseline average in April 2023 and 1.4% above April 2022. Cancer deaths in January to April 2023 were 6.8% above baseline average and 0.4% above the same period in 2022.
  • Deaths due to respiratory diseases were 2.5% above baseline average and 2.1% higher than in 2022. Deaths due to respiratory diseases in January to April were 5.3% above baseline average and 3.0% above the same period in 2022. Of the 45 influenza deaths recorded in January to April 2023, 24 occurred in April.
  • Deaths due to ischaemic heart disease were 4.7% below the baseline average in April 2023 and 7.9% lower than April 2022. In January to April 2023 the number of ischaemic heart disease deaths was 5.7% below baseline and 9.9% lower than in the same period in 2022.
  • Deaths due to cerebrovascular disease were 6.9% lower than the baseline average in April 2023 and 0.7% lower than April 2022.  Cerebrovascular disease deaths from January to April 2023 were 5.2% below baseline average and 3.4% below the same period in 2022.
Doctor certified deaths by cause, 2023, 2022, Baseline
   AprilYear to date - January - April
   20232022baseline average20232022baseline average
Ischaemic heart disease1,0791,1711,1324,1414,5984,391
Respiratory diseases1,0301,0091,0054,0193,9023,815
 Chronic lower respiratory diseases5695695572,2202,2472,168
 Influenza and pneumonia180163190670595674
Other cardiac conditions  7307626703,0072,9922,606
Cerebrovascular diseases7207257732,7982,8972,950

a. Only doctor certified deaths are included.
b. Data is by date of occurrence.
c. The baseline includes deaths from 2017-19 and 2021

Timeliness and completeness of data

Each death registration in the national mortality dataset has 3 dates:

  • The date on which the death occurred.
  • The date on which the death was registered with the jurisdictional Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (RBDM).
  • The date on which the death was lodged with the ABS.

When looking to measure change over time, the completeness of data for the most recent period is important. When data is received each month by the ABS, the lag between the date of death and the date of registration means that approximately 40-50% of reported registrations are of deaths that occurred in the month being reported. The remainder are deaths that occurred in earlier months.

For deaths which are doctor certified, approximately 95% of registrations are received after a second month of reporting, while for coroner certified deaths, the proportion of registrations reported after a second month is lower (approximately 78%). This is because it takes longer for coroners to certify deaths due to the complexity of investigations.

As coroner referred deaths make up a smaller proportion of all deaths (approximately 11-14%) their inclusion in all-cause data only reduces the overall completeness by around 2%. This should be considered when making comparisons with historical counts, noting also that the level of completeness will be higher for the start of any given month than the end of that month. 

This pattern of registration and reporting is highlighted in the table below, which also shows the slight variation in reporting timelines by cause of death. 

Estimated completeness of death registrations received by the ABS (a)(b)(c)
 Total proportion reported at the end of
Cause of death

the month the death occurred (%)

the month after the death occurred (%)

two months after the death occurred (%)

All cause - doctor and coroner certified43.192.797.1
All cause - doctor certified only44.593.997.9
All cause - coroner certified only24.677.588.1
Ischaemic heart disease (I20 – I25)45.294.998.4
Other cardiac conditions (I26 – I51)45.595.098.6
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60 – I69)
Respiratory diseases (J00 – J99)45.695.398.7
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40 – J47)45.394.298.1
Influenza and pneumonia (J09 – J18)45.495.498.8
Cancer (C00 – C97, D45, D46, D47.1, D47.3 – D47.5)46.895.398.6
Diabetes (E10 – E14)43.892.897.1
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (F01, F03, G30, G31.0, G31.8)46.395.498.7

a. Percentages are based on the date registrations were received by the ABS for deaths that occurred in 2017-2019 and 2021.
b. Only doctor certified deaths are included for cause-specific data.
c. Data is provisional and subject to change.

The graphs below show how numbers of deaths for each period have increased over time as additional registrations that occurred in previous months are reported to the ABS. Due to these increases, data for the most recently reported periods should be treated with caution.

Data downloads

Provisional Mortality Statistics, Jan - Apr 2023

Data files

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 3303.0.55.004

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