Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Falls, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 29 June 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Falls. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Falls. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Falls [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Jun. 29]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Falls, viewed 29 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/falls
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Falls are Australia’s largest contributor to hospitalised injuries and a leading cause of injury deaths. In 2019–20, 42% of hospitalised injuries and 40% of injury deaths were due to falls.
Falls can happen to anyone at any location, but falls requiring hospitalisation are more common in older people and most likely to occur in the home.
Over half of fall injury hospitalisations involve a fracture.
In 2019–20, falls resulted in:
876 per 100,000 population
20.9 per 100,000 population
This page summarises data on unintentional falls. Intentional injuries and deaths are included under Assault and homicide or Self-harm and suicide.
Slipping, tripping or stumbling on same level (W01)
Other fall on same level (W18)
Fall involving furniture (including bed and chair) (W06–08)
Fall on or from stairs or steps (W10)
Fall involving ice-skates, skis, roller-skates or skateboards (W02)
Fall involving playground equipment (W09)
Fall on or from a ladder (W11)
Other fall on same level due to collision with, or pushing by, another person (W03)
Other specified types of falls (W00, W04–05, W12–17)
Unspecified fall (W19)
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
For more detail, see Data tables B11–12.
It is often not possible to determine the exact mode of falling which contributed to a death. In 2019–20, the type of fall was not specified in 87% of injury-related deaths. For deaths where the type of fall was specified, slipping or tripping on the same level was the most commonly reported cause.
Caution should be used when interpreting the data due to the large proportion of unspecified falls (Table 2).
Fall on or from ladder, scaffolding, building, tree, cliff or into water (W11–W16)
Other specified types of falls (W00, W02–05, W09, W17–W18)
Other identified unspecified fall (X59)
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
For more detail, see Data tables E16–18.
Hospital admissions for fall injuries appear to have minimal seasonal pattern, remaining almost level over the course a year.
In March 2020 the first lockdowns and social distancing measures associated with COVID-19 interrupted the usual activity of Australians. The restrictions to movement and activity coincided with a marked drop in overall injury hospitalisations. For falls, there were 14% fewer hospitalisations from March to May than in the same period of the previous year. As initial restriction eased, admissions for falls quickly returned and were close to previous levels by June (Figure 1).
See the interactive COVID-19 display for data and further discussion about the impact on hospital admissions.
The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to falls in 2019–20 was 4.4% lower than the previous year. This decrease appears at least in part to have been driven by COVID-19 related events.
Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual increase of 2.0% for the age-standardised rate of hospitalisations. There is a break in the time series for hospitalisations between 2016–17 and 2017–18, due to a change in data collection methods (see the Technical notes for details).
For deaths due to falls, the age-standardised rate for 2019–20 was 3.0% lower than a year earlier. The average annual increase in rate between 2010–11 and 2019–20 was 0.5% (Figure 2).
The visualisation features 2 matching line graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The 3 lines represent the trend for males, females and persons from 2010–11 to 2019–20 . The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–6 and F1–4.
People aged 65 and over were more likely to be hospitalised or die due to a fall compared with other life-stages.
Falls were one of the few causes of injury where females outnumbered males, both for hospitalisations and deaths.
For falls in 2019–20:
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.
Different age groups tend to engage in different activities, leading to a different pattern of fall types for each age group. For hospitalised falls in 2019–20:
For more detail, see data tables B11–12.
There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury can be measured. Using available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
The average number of days in hospital for falls was longer than for all hospitalised injuries in 2019–20. However, the percentage of falls that required time in ICU and/or continuous ventilatory support were both lower than for all injuries (Table 4).
Injuries due to falls
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in intensive care
% of cases involving continuous ventilatory support
Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.
For more detail, see Data tables A12 and A13.
In 2019–20, the head and neck were the body parts most often identified as the principal site of injury in fall hospitalisations (Figure 4). In part, this may reflect the inherently serious nature of head and neck injuries.
Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions or Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.
Fractures were the most common type of injury sustained for both males and females who were hospitalised due to a fall (Figure 5).
Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Fracture was the most common for both males and females, followed by open wound. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.
For more detail, see Data tables A10 and A11.
There is variation between sexes in the type of injury sustained from hospitalised falls. Fractures, dislocation and superficial injuries were more common for females than males. Soft tissue, open wound, intracranial, and internal organ or vessel of trunk injuries were more common for males than females.
There is also variation in the body part injured. Hip and lower limb injuries, and shoulder and upper limb injuries were more common for females than males. Wrist and hand injuries, and ankle and foot injuries were more common in males than females.
In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–5 and D4–5.
In 2019–20, Indigenous Australians were 1.4 times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to be hospitalised due to a fall injury, after adjusting for differences in population age (Table 7). This trend was reversed for deaths, where non-Indigenous Australians were 1.2 times as likely to die due to a fall than Indigenous Australians, although readers are advised to use these data with caution due to low numbers (Table 8).
For more detail, see Data table A6 and D6.
The age-specific rate of falls hospitalisations was highest among the 65 and over life-stage age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.
Hospitalisations due to falls showed a slight variation from most other causes of injury when examined by remoteness of usual residency. For the majority of causes, the most remote areas had the highest rates and the least remote areas had the lowest rates. For falls, while the highest rate continues to be in the most remote areas, the lowest rate was in Inner regional areas.
In 2019–20, people living in Very remote areas were 1.4 times as likely to be hospitalised due to a fall as people living in Inner regional areas (Table 9).
The pattern of falls deaths according to remoteness of usual residence was also different to that of most other causes of injury. In 2019–20, people living in Inner regional areas had the highest rate and were 1.1 times as likely to die due to a fall than people living in Major cities (Table 10).
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
n.p. not publishable because of small numbers, confidentiality or other concerns about the quality of the data.
For more detail, see Data tables A9 and D9.
The highest age-specific rate of fall injury hospitalisations was among the 65 and over age group living in Major cities (Figure 7).
Deaths data are not presented here because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see the Technical notes.
Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted
Technical notes: how the data were calculated
Data tables: download full data tables
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2019. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 11th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2011. International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, tenth revision. Fifth edition 2016. Geneva: WHO.
The following are publications from recent years that include information on falls. See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
Falls in older Australians 2019–20: hospitalisations and deaths among people aged 65 and over
Sports injury hospitalisations in Australia, 2019–20
Trends in hospitalised injury due to falls in older people, 2007–08 to 2016–17
The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia—first results (2016–17 data)
Interfaces between the aged care and health systems in Australia—movements between aged care and hospital, 2016–17
Spinal cord injury, Australia, 2017–18
Hip fracture incidence and hospitalisations in Australia, 2015–16
Hospitalised injury and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Indigenous injury deaths, 2011–12 to 2015–16
Injury mortality and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
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