Notes on the data: Aboriginal premature mortality by sex

Deaths of Aboriginal people aged 0 to 54, 0 to 64, 0 to 74 years, 2013 to 2017


Policy context:  

Around 3,000 Indigenous Australians die each year, resulting in almost 100,000 years of life lost due to premature death [1]. Chronic disease is responsible for a major part of the life expectancy gap; and accounts for some two thirds of the premature deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians [2].

The median age at death in the period from 2013 to 2017 for Aboriginal people ranged from 55.0 years for those living in Western Australia to 61.0 years for those living in New South Wales [3]. These levels were, in most jurisdictions, more than 20 years less than those for the total population, which ranged from 63.5 years (Northern Territory) to 82.0 years (New South Wales and South Australia ).

Four in five (80.0%) of deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people occurred before 75 years of age over the years 2013 to 2017, almost two and a half (2.42) times the proportion for non-Indigenous people, of 33.0%: details here.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australian Burden of Disease Study: fatal burden of disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010. (Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 2. Cat. no. BOD 2). Canberra: AIHW; 2015.
  2. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. Overview of Australian Indigenous health status, 2014. [Internet] 2014. [cited 2015 May 7]. Available from:
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Deaths, Australia. (ABS cat. no. 3302.0.) ABS: Canberra; 2015 [released 2016 Sep 28; cited: 2017 Oct 23]. Available from:


Deaths data

For deaths data released since 2007, the ABS has applied a staged approach to the coding of cause of death which affects the number of records available for release at any date. In each release, the latest year’s data is preliminary, the second latest is revised and the data for the remaining years is final. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites:

Almost all deaths in Australia are registered. However, Indigenous status is not always recorded, or recorded correctly. The incompleteness of Indigenous identification (referred to as completeness of coverage) means that the number of deaths registered as Indigenous is an underestimate of the actual number of deaths which occur in the Indigenous population. It should also be noted that completeness of coverage is likely to vary between geographical areas.

While there is incomplete coverage of Indigenous deaths in all state and territory registration systems, some jurisdictions have been assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as having a sufficient level of coverage to enable statistics on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality to be produced. Those jurisdictions are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Networks, Indigenous Quintiles and Indigenous Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Total Aboriginal deaths aged 0 to 54 years, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years


Denominator:  Total Aboriginal population aged 0 to 54 years, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 Aboriginal population (aged 0 to 54, 0 to 64 and 0 to 74 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2013 to 2017 Cause of Death Unit Record Files supplied by the Australian Coordinating Registry and the Victorian Department of Justice, on behalf of the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System. The population is the proportional estimated resident population (erp) from the Australian Census 2016 click here for more details.


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