From April 2024 there will be a change to how deaths data in the Provisional Mortality Statistics report will be presented. The time frame coincides with the beginning of the reporting period for deaths occurring in 2024. The format of these reports will be confirmed in upcoming publications and will take account of the following factors.
- The ABS now releases official Excess mortality estimates every six months. These estimates are modelled from a historical baseline accounting for age structure and population. With this report available, the baseline constructed from an average count of deaths which is currently included in the Provisional Mortality Report is no longer necessary. The latest excess mortality estimates are available in the article ‘Measuring Australia’s excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic until August 2023’, published on 18 December.
- 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 information presented can be changed to reflect changing data needs. As the pandemic has progressed it is important to consider not only the impact of COVID-19 alone, but also that of other active acute respiratory infections.
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.
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.