This report presents the results of a study on the quality of Indigenous identification in records of hospitalisations in public hospitals in Australia (the study). The study was conducted in 2011 and 2012 by the AIHW, in collaboration with state and territory authorities. The report presents an analysis of hospital separations data and estimates of correction factors that can be applied to the data for analysis purposes at four levels: the national level; national by remoteness; state and territory level and remoteness levels within jurisdictions.

Key findings

An estimated 88% of Indigenous patients were correctly identified in Australian public hospital admission records in 2011-12.

The weighted completeness (and confidence intervals) of Indigenous identification for public hospitals in 2011-12 was: 80% (76-83%) in New South Wales, 78% (71-84%) in Victoria, 87% (84-91%) in Queensland, 96% (92-98%) in Western Australia, 91% (85-95%) in South Australia, 64% (53-74%) in Tasmania, 58% (46-69%) in the Australian Capital Territory and 98% (96-99%) in the Northern Territory.

There were wide variations in Indigenous identification by remoteness, ranging from 77% (72-81%) in major cities to 99% (96-100%) in very remote areas.


The major recommendations of this report are:

  • The data for all jurisdictions should be used in any analyses of Indigenous hospitalisation rates.
  • The Indigenous identification completeness estimates from this study should be used in data quality information to accompany all data analyses.
  • All states and territories should be included in national analyses of Indigenous admitted patient care for data from 2010-11 onwards.
  • Correction factors are to be utilised to adjust total hospital separations data (public hospitals and public and private hospitals combined) at: national level; national by remoteness; state and territory level and remoteness within jurisdictions.

For more recommendations see Section 5 of the report.