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.
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.