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Deaths data are useful for:

  • understanding disease and death in the overall population at a point in time 
  • monitoring trends in death, specific causes of death and life expectancy over time 
  • investigating differences in these patterns between population groups such as people living in areas of different remoteness and socioeconomic status, people born in different countries and Indigenous people 
  • informing health policy, planning, investment and administration of the health care system across all its tiers, including understanding trends and patterns in relation to population health interventions and health system changes 
  • informing the work of epidemiologists and other public health researchers. 

There were 147,098 deaths registered in Australia in 2012

Dash 2 in 3 deaths among aged 75 and over PNG

2 in 3

Deaths occurred among people aged 75 or over.

Dash death rate since 1907 PNG


Was the decline in mortality from all causes in Australia between 1907 and 2012.

Dash 3 in 10 deaths from cvd PNG

3 in 10

Deaths were due to cardiovascular disease in 2011. The leading underlying cause of death in Australia was coronary heart disease.

Dash 4 in 5 deaths have multiple causes PNG

4 in 5

Deaths due to natural causes involved more than one disease.

Dash life expectancy PNG

4.4 years

was the difference in the expected life expectancy between males (79.9 years) and females (84.3 years) born in 2010–2012.

Dash 2 in 3 Indigenous die before 65 PNG

2 in 3

Indigenous Australians died before age 65 (2004–2008) compared to 1 in 5 non-Indigenous Australians.

Dash child death rate since 1907 PNG


Was the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Australia in 2012. This represents a decline of more than 95% since 1907, an important improvement in Child health, development and wellbeing.

Dash 1 in 2 deaths in hospital PNG

1 in 2

Or 52%, of the deaths that occurred during 2010–11, were among people admitted to a hospital. They often received palliative care.    

Why are deaths data important?

Looking at how many people die and what caused their death can provide vital information about the health of a population. Examining patterns and trends in deaths can help explain differences and changes in the health of a population, contribute to the evaluation of health strategies and interventions, and guide planning and policy-making.

Cause-specific death statistics provide insight into the events that contribute to deaths and to the burden of disease. Causes of death are documented on a death certificate and can be classified into disease groups. The coding of death certificates produces an underlying cause and, for many deaths, one or more associated causes of death.

Underlying, associated, and multiple causes of death

Death statistics are often based on the underlying cause of death only—that is, the disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death. Analysis of the underlying cause of death is important because it points to where interventions can be targeted.

Leading underlying cause of death statistics presented here are based on the underlying cause of death.

Associated causes of death are other conditions that contributed to the death but were not the underlying cause of death. Analyses using associated causes of death may offer insight into the disease processes occurring at the end of life or, for injury causes of death, the nature of the injury.

Multiple causes of death statistics are based on both the underlying and associated causes of death.

Changes in the pattern of causes of death may reflect changes in behaviours, exposures, health interventions, social and environmental circumstances and the effects of medical and technological advances.

Year of occurrence and year of registration

Trends may be presented by year of occurrence of death or year of registration of death.

Using year of occurrence of death is common when the exact time period of the death is important (for example, seasonal deaths) however the latest data available underestimates the occurrence of recent deaths due to a lag in registration.

For this reason, year of registration of death is often used to allow the latest year of data to be compared to previous years.

In both cases the latest year of data are coded with preliminary causes of death information and may underestimate causes of death that are usually certified by a coroner (for example, external causes of death including suicide).

Unless otherwise specified, deaths statistics presented here are based on year of registration of death.

For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see About deaths data.