The ABS is Australia’s official statistical organisation. Every five years the ABS produces the official life expectancy estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
The AIHW is Australia’s national health and welfare statistics agency. The AIHW also produces life expectancy estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
It is a strength of the Australian statistical system that two sets of life expectancy estimates are produced. While the two sets of estimates are based on the same death and population information, there are differences in the ways this information is adjusted, enhanced or supplemented to produce life expectancy estimates. To date, the ABS and AIHW life expectancy estimates have been similar, which provides confidence that they are quality estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy.
For statistical purposes, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is defined by how people identify (or are identified) in various data sources, and this can change over time. This affects the input data sources used to calculate life expectancy estimates, and the ABS and AIHW apply different treatments to address this.
The production of two sets of life expectancy estimates provides an opportunity for crosschecking the estimates which may help with interpreting them and understanding their quality. This has occurred by exploring differences between the estimates and through engagement between ABS, AIHW and other experts and data users. Improvements or learnings gained from one set of estimates can provide insight into areas of future development for the other set of estimates, and vice versa.
There are benefits to using both estimates in combination to provide insight into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy.