This report, covering injuries resulting in admission to Australian hospitals in the financial year 2009-10, is the eighth in the series that started in 2001-02.

The focus of the report is community injury (that is, injuries typically sustained in places such as the home, workplace or street).

An estimated 421,065 community injury cases, of which 242,478 were males, required hospitalisation during 2009-10, with males outnumbering females at a ratio of about 1.5:1.0.

A total of 1,668,462 patient days were attributable to hospitalised community injury, with a mean length of stay of 4 days. About one in ten community injury cases (11%) were classified as high threat to life in 2009-10. Nearly all cases of drowning and near-drowning were considered high threat (83%). More than one in five transportation and falls-related injury cases were classified as high threat to life, and accounted for 81% of high threat to life community injury cases overall.

The leading cause of hospitalised community injury was falls (38%), followed by unintentional transport-related incidents (13%). The leading causes of hospitalised intentional injury were self-harm (6%) and assault (6%).

Causes of hospitalised community injury varied by age:

  • For very young children (aged 0-4), the leading cause for injury hospitalisation was an unintentional fall (42%), while smoke, fire, heat and hot substances accounted for 8% and poisoning by pharmaceuticals accounted for 6%.
  •  46% of injury hospitalisations for children aged 5-14 were the result of a fall and 16% were transport-related.
  • The most common causes of injury hospitalisation for young adults aged 15-24 were transport-related injuries (19%), falls (14%), assault (11%) and intentional self-harm (10%).
  • A similar pattern was seen in adults aged 25-44 where transport-related injury hospitalisation accounted for 17%, falls 14%, and 11% each for self-harm and assault.
  •  Falls (32%) were the leading cause of community injury hospitalisations for adults aged 45-64, and 14% were transport-related.
  • More than three-quarters of injury hospitalisations for people aged 65 and over occurred as a result of a fall (76%).

Where information was available, 26% of all hospitalised community injuries occurred in the home. A higher proportion of female injuries occurred in the home compared with male injuries (35% versus 19%) or in a residential institution (9% versus 3%). Males were more likely than females to have been injured on a street or highway, as well as in sports and athletics, trade and service, and industrial and construction areas and farms.

Rates of community injury increased with geographical remoteness. The lowest rate of 1,728 cases per 100,000 population occurred in Major cities in Australia, while the highest (3,857 cases per 100,000 population) occurred in Very remote Australia.

The age-standardised rate of community injury was 1,724 cases per 100,000 population in 1999-00. In 2009-10 the age-standardised rate of community injury was 1,858.3 cases per 100,000 population, similar to that recorded in 2008−09 (1,865 cases).