Deaths data sources

The deaths data in this report come from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) National Mortality Database (NMD) and the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).

National Mortality Database

The National Mortality Database (NMD) holds records for deaths in Australia from 1964. The database comprises information about causes of death and other characteristics of the person, such as sex, age at death, area of usual residence and Indigenous status.

The Cause of Death Unit Record Files are provided to the AIHW by the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state and territory and the National Coronial Information System (managed by the Victorian Department of Justice). The cause of death data are compiled and coded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) and maintained at the AIHW in the NMD. Registration of deaths is the responsibility of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state and territory. The data quality statements underpinning the AIHW NMD can be found on the following ABS internet pages:

For more information on mortality coding refer to Causes of Death, Australia methodology (ABS 2021).

This document relates to data for 2011–12 to 2020–21, published in 2023.

Box 1: Key terms and concepts

An external cause is the environmental event or condition that caused the injury, for example a transport accident of a particular type.

The underlying cause of death (UCoD) code represents the disease or injury that initiated the train of morbid events leading to a person’s death, according to information available to the coder. If a death was due to an injury, the ICD-10 requires that the external cause be entered as the UCoD.            

Multiple causes of death (MCoD) codes represent all the morbid conditions, diseases and injuries which are listed on the death certificate. They include all the factors in the morbid train of events leading to death: the underlying cause, the immediate cause, any intervening causes, and any conditions that contributed. This is especially helpful for chronic conditions, which often involve more than one illness.

Coding is according to the ICD-10 (WHO 2019), which includes a chapter for injuries and another for external causes.