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released: 25 Sep 2009 author: Henley G & Harrison J media release

Accidental falls, suicide and transport-related injuries are common causes of death in the Australian community. This report finds that overall, rates of injury death in Australia during 2004-05 increased with the remoteness of the injured person's residence, with those who resided in very remote areas having a rate more than double that of the national rate. When considering only deaths resulting from motor vehicle transport accidents, the mortality rate for those who resided in very remote areas was 4 times the national rate. When considering state and territory of residence, those who resided in the Northern Territory, where much of the population lives in remote and very remote areas, had mortality rates almost 3 times the national rate for motor vehicle transport-related deaths, more than double the national rate for suicides, and more than 4 times the national rate for homicides.

ISSN 1444-3791; ISBN 978 1 74024 925 6; Cat. no. INJCAT 127; 134pp.; Internet

Summary

A total of 9,775 community injury deaths occurred in Australia in 2004-05, 62% of which were males. The age-adjusted rate of 63.9 deaths per 100,000 population for males was more than double the rate for females (30.3). Age-specific rates were relatively steady for both males and females from early adulthood through to the late sixties, rising rapidly from age 70 years onwards.

A slight downward trend in injury deaths, evident over the past few years, continued in 2004-05. This trend was more marked for males than females. Under-ascertainment of injury deaths in the source data file may have contributed to this.

Just over a quarter of all injury deaths involved some type of fracture, with just on two-thirds of these deaths having incurred a hip fracture. Injuries to the head were also common with just over 17% of all deaths sustaining this type of injury. Of these, 40% sustained some form of intracranial injury.

The most common cause of injury death was Unintentional falls, which accounted for 29% of all community injury deaths that occurred in 2004-05. Persons aged 70 years and over accounted for almost 90% of all deaths in this group.

Other common causes of injury deaths included Suicide and Transport which accounted for 24% and 18% of all injury deaths respectively. Males were close to four times more likely than females to commit suicide, while males aged 20-54 years accounted for over 57% of all deaths in this group.

Similarly for Transport deaths, males were close to three times more likely than females to die as a result of a transport accident, while males aged 15-34 years accounted for almost 33% of all deaths in this group. Almost 87% of all transport-related deaths were as a result of a motor vehicle traffic accident, while for 65% of these deaths, the victim was an occupant of a motor vehicle.

The age-adjusted rate of 97.2 deaths per 100,000 population for the Northern Territory was the highest of all the jurisdictions, with Tasmania having the next highest rate (60.0). The Australian Capital Territory had the lowest age-adjusted rate (43.7), which was only marginally lower than the national rate (46.7).

Age-adjusted rates of injury mortality increased according to the remoteness of the deceased's zone of residence. The rate was almost 2.5 times greater in the Very remote zone than it was in Major cities.

When using ABS data, there was strong evidence of undercounting of cases in some external cause categories on 2004-05 and similar over enumeration of cases in other categories. This was particularly evident in the sections related to transport, suicide and homicide where the reported totals were significantly less than those estimated using the National Coroners Information System, and in the case of transport and homicide, less than those reported by other agencies. The ABS has revised the concepts and processes which underlie injury mortality data, which will improve data reliability for deaths registered in 2007 and subsequently.

The trend in death rate for total community injury cases remained relatively unchanged, the undercounting in the external cause categories mentioned above largely being compensated for by over-counting in other external cause categories. This was evident for the sections on Poisoning and Other unintentional deaths.

Recommended citation

Henley G & Harrison J 2009. Injury deaths, Australia 2004-05. Injury research and statistics series no. 51. Cat. no. INJCAT 127. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 2 September 2014 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468284>.