Notes on the data: Child and youth health - Infant mortality

Infant mortality, 2013 to 2017


Policy context:  The survival of infants in their first year of life is viewed as an indicator of general health and wellbeing of a population. Infant mortality refers to deaths of infants under one year of age and is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), the rate of infant deaths per 1000 births in a calendar year. The IMR for Indigenous infants is significantly higher than that for non-Indigenous infants, indicating their overall poorer health and wellbeing and the levels of socioeconomic disadvantage of their families, much of which represent the legacy of colonisation, cultural dispossession, discriminatory policies and social exclusion.

Australia has one of the lowest IMR in the world: in 2017 it was 3.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 4.1 deaths per 1,000 live births ten years earlier [1].

In 2018, the total five state/territory (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory) IMR for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was almost twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (5.8 and 3.0 per 1,000 live births respectively) [2].


  1. 3302.0 - Infant deaths. Deaths, Australia, 2018. Available from: last accessed 2 December 2019
  2. 3302.0 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths. Deaths, Australia, 2018. Available from: last accessed 2 December 2019

Notes:  Data are not shown for areas where there were fewer than 20 births.

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:


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Deaths that occurred before 12 months of age


Denominator:  All births


Detail of analysis:  Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births


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 births data for 2013 to 2017 were compiled from the ABS Births, Australia 2017 (ABS Cat. no. 3301.0).


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