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About injury

Injury has a major, but often preventable, impact on Australia’s health. It affects Australians of all ages, is the greatest cause of death in the first half of life, and leaves many with serious disability or long-term conditions. In 2010, injury was estimated to account for 6.5% of the total burden of disease in Australia. For these reasons, injury prevention and safety promotion is a National Health Priority Area.

An injury is the physical damage (for example, a bruise, broken bone or brain damage) that results when a human body is suddenly or briefly subjected to intolerable levels of energy. There are many causes of injury, including being struck by an object (a car, for example), cut by a knife, falling, or coming in contact with fire or with a toxic chemical. While the majority of injuries are relatively minor and require little or no treatment, more serious injuries require medical treatment including hospitalisation.

Injury prevention and control was declared a National Health Priority Area in 1996 because of its impact on the Australian community.

At a glance

  • Injury contributes substantially to the burden of disease. In 2010, injury was estimated to account for 6.5% of the total burden of disease in Australia.
  • Each year about 400,000 people suff er an injury severe enough to be admitted to a hospital. The number of hospitalised cases increased by about 10,000 cases per year between 1999–00 and 2009–10; however, after allowing for the ageing of the population, the overall rate of injury for all Australians remained steady over this period.
  • Older people, particularly women, have higher rates of injury as a result of falls.

National Injury Surveillance Unit (NISU)

The AIHW has an agreement with Flinders University for the operation of the National Injury Surveillance Unit in Adelaide. The unit develops, coordinates, interprets and disseminates relevant information, research and analysis to inform community discussion and support policy making and control of injury.