This report provides an overview of current patterns and trends in mortality and life expectancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy of around 10 years less than non-Indigenous Australians

In 2010-2012, the estimated life expectancy at birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males was 69.1 years, and 73.7 years for females. This was 10.6 and 9.5 years lower than the life expectancy of non-Indigenous males and females respectively.

Indigenous Australians die at younger ages and at higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians

For the period 2008-2012, about two-thirds (65%) of Indigenous deaths occurred before the age of 65, compared with 19% of non-Indigenous deaths.

After adjusting for differences in age structure, Indigenous death rates were 1.6 times as high as non-Indigenous death rates.

Main causes of deaths among Indigenous Australians are circulatory diseases, cancer and external causes

Circulatory diseases were the leading broad cause of Indigenous deaths for the period 2008-2012 (26%), followed by cancer (20%), external causes (15%), endocrine, metabolic and nutritional disorders (9%), respiratory diseases (8%) and digestive diseases (6%).

Chronic diseases are main contributors to the mortality 'gap' between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

Four groups of chronic conditions account for about two-thirds of the gap in mortality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians: circulatory disease (24% of the gap), endocrine, metabolic and nutritional disorders (21%), cancer (12%), and respiratory diseases (12%).

Declines in mortality rates from all causes, circulatory diseases and respiratory diseases

Mortality rates for Indigenous Australians declined by 9% between 2001 and 2012 (in the 5 jurisdictions with adequate data over this period).

Between 2001 and 2012, there were significant declines in Indigenous mortality rates for circulatory diseases for both males and females (declines of 30% and 29% respectively) and for respiratory diseases for Indigenous males (32%). These declines were greater than those observed for the non-Indigenous population.

A widening of the gap in deaths from cancer

While there were improvements in mortality from cancer in the non-Indigenous population between 2001 and 2012, this did not occur in the Indigenous population, leading to a significant increase in the mortality gap due to cancer for both males and females.