Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Injury in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 23 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Injury in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/injury-in-australia
Injury in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 09 December 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/injury-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Injury in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 May. 23]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/injury-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Injury in Australia, viewed 23 May 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/injury-in-australia
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Injuries are a major health care issue in Australia. In the latest years for which data was available, injuries caused:
In 2018–19, there were around:
544,000 injury hospitalisations
2,200 per 100,000 population
13,800 injury deaths
55 per 100,000 population
Most injuries, whether accidental or intentional, are preventable. This report divides injury hospitalisations and deaths into 15 categories, representing the main causes of injury in Australia (see Figure 1). These categories are based on the causes of injury listed in each hospital and death record.
In 2018–19, falls were the most common cause of both injury hospitalisations and injury deaths. The next most common causes for hospitalisations were contact with objects (including blunt or sharp objects) and transport accidents. For deaths, the next most common causes were suicide, accidental poisoning and transport accidents.
Each of these 15 main causes of injury is explored further on its own page.
The visualisation features 2 matching bar graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The bars represent the 15 cause categories. The reader can select to display either crude rate per 100,000 or number. For hospitalisations, unintentional falls shows the highest rate at 919 per 100,000.
For more detail, see data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
The age-standardised rate of injury hospitalisations in 2018–19 was 0.4% higher than a year earlier. Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual increase of 1.5%.
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 Technical notes for more details).
For injury deaths, the average annual increase in rate between 2009–10 and 2018–19 was 0.4% (Figure 2).
Timeline showing age-standardised rate or number of injury hospitalisations or injury deaths from 2009–10 to 2018–19.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–4 and E1–4.
Rates of injury vary between males and females. The extent of this variation changes over the course of life – some causes of injury tend to have the greatest impact on younger males, while other causes are more likely to impact older females.
The following sections explore these differences in age and sex, in general first of all, and then considering specific causes.
Overall, males had higher rates than females for both injury related hospitalisation and death. For hospitalisations, males had higher rates until around age 65, when female rates become more prominent. For deaths, male rates remained higher across all age groups.
In 2018–19, 55% of injury hospitalisations were for males (about 296,700 cases) and 45% were for females (247,400 cases). Correspondingly, the age-standardised rate of injury hospitalisation was higher for males at around 2,400 per 100,000, compared with 1,700 per 100,000 for females.
The age distribution of injuries differs between the sexes, as illustrated in figure 3. Comparing 5-year age brackets:
In 2018–19, almost two thirds of injury deaths (62%) were for males (8,500 deaths) and 38% were for females (5,300 deaths). Correspondingly, the age-standardised rates of death were 65 per 100,000 males, and 32 per 100,000 females. Over half of injury deaths (53%) were for those aged 65 and over.
In 2018–19, comparing life-stage age groups:
The visualisation features 2 dual axis column and line graphs, one for males and one for females. The graphs present data for 5-year age groups from age 0 to 4 up to age 95 and over. The columns pair with the left axis and present number of cases. The lines pair with the right axis and present rate per 100,000. Male injury numbers peak in the 20 to 24 year age band while female numbers peak at 85 to 89 years. Rates for both sexes rise notably after around age 70.
For more detail, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
Some causes of injury affect one sex more. Males had higher rates of injury hospitalisation in all causes except falls and intentional self-harm. Some causes, such as accidental poisoning, showed a relatively small difference, while others displayed a large bias towards one sex (Figure 4).
The largest differences in hospitalisation rate in 2018–19 were from causes related to activities that are traditionally dominated by males:
Males had higher rates of injury death than females in every cause category. For males, the highest age-standardised rate was from suicide, while for females it was from falls.
The visualisation features 2 matching bar graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The bars represent males and females in the 15 cause categories. The reader can select to display either age-standardised rate or crude rate per 100,000 or number.
For more detail, see Data tables A1–3, D1–3 and B1–34.
Different age groups face different injury risk factors. As a result, injuries due to the various causes occur in different proportions in each age group.
For injury hospitalisations in 2018–19:
For injury deaths in 2018–19:
Figures 5 and 6 illustrate, respectively, the rank and the proportion of injuries attributed to the cause categories, by age groups. Figure 5 uses stage-of-life age groups for simplicity, while Figure 6 uses 5-year age bands for more detail.
Bump chart showing how the causes of injury change order over life-stage age groups. Falls was the number 1 cause of injury hospitalisation in the 0 to 4 age group, dropping to fourth in the 15 to 24 age group and then rising again to be the number 1 cause in the 65-and-over age group.
2 area charts on separate tabs, 1 each for Hospitalisations and Deaths. The y-axis represent the proportion of injuries attributed to the cause categories across 5 year age groups in the x-axis. Falls caused 46% of hospitalised injuries in the 0 to 4 age group, dropping to 14% in the 20 to 24 age group and then rising to 92% in the 95-and-over age group.
For more detail, see Data tables A1–3 and B1–34.
Each cause is discussed further on its own page.
There are many ways the severity, or seriousness, of an injury could be assessed. Using the available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
In 2018–19, the most severe injuries in terms of average number of days in hospital were due to falls (6.0 days), thermal causes (5.1 days), and transport accidents (4.4 days) (Figure 7).
The average length of stay may be influenced by the age of those injured, with younger people staying fewer days in hospital than older people across all cause categories. Older people recover more slowly and are more likely to have additional health problems or complications. This particularly affects the statistics for causes with higher proportions of older people, such as falls.
Note: 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.
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
Over 13,700 injury hospitalisations (2.5% of all cases) involved a stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) in 2018–19. Intentional self-harm and drowning and submersion were the causes most likely to result in ICU time (Figure 8).
About 6,800 injury hospitalisations (1.2% of all cases) involved continuous ventilatory support in 2018–19. Most patients needing this level of support will be in an ICU. Intentional self-harm and drowning and submersion were also the causes most likely to result in continuous ventilatory support (Figure 8).
Note: The Electricity and pressure category was not included because the underlying counts were suppressed.
For more detail, see Data tables A12–13.
This section provides summary statistics firstly about the parts of the body injured in hospitalised cases, and secondly about the types of injury commonly sustained.
In 2018–19, the head and neck was the body part most often identified as the principal site of injury in hospitalisations (Figure 9). To some extent 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 and Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.
The various causes tend to lead to different types of injury outcomes. Figure 10 shows the three most common body parts injured for some of the most common cause categories.
Proportional bar graph showing the most commonly injured body parts by cause for hospitalised cases. The bars represent 5 causes: falls, contact with objects, transport, assault, contact with living things and overexertion.
For more detail, see Data table A11.
The type of injury that a person sustains also tends to vary by cause.
Fractures were the most common type of injury overall and across many cause categories. Open wounds and soft tissue injuries were the next most common overall. Figure 11 shows the most common types of injury in hospitalisations for selected causes.
1. Other and unspecified’ injuries include dislocations, injuries to internal organs or vessels of the trunk, burns, poisoning and other and unspecified types of injuries.
2. Data not available or not published by cause for burns and thermal causes, poisoning, drowning and submersion, and intentional self-harm.
For more detail, see Data table A10.
In 2018–19, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there were over 29,600 injury hospitalisations and 500 deaths. Falls and assault were the two most common causes of injury hospitalisations (Table 1); suicide was the most common cause of injury deaths (Table 2).
Indigenous males, compared with Indigenous females (age-standardised) were:
Injury hospitalisation rates among Indigenous Australians were highest for the 25–44 age group (Figure 12).
Crude rate (per 100,000)
Contact with objects
Contact with living things
Drowning and submersion
Note: All-causes total includes hospitalisations where the cause has undetermined intent or is missing, or where the cause is not elsewhere classified.
Choking and suffocation
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.
In 2018–19, Indigenous Australians, compared with other Australians, using age-standardised rates, were:
The cause of injury hospitalisations with the largest difference in rates between Indigenous and other Australians was assault, which was 13 times as high in the Indigenous population. Rates of injury among Indigenous Australians for intentional self-harm, thermal causes, accidental poisoning, contact with living things, and exposure to forces of nature were all 2 to 3 times as high as for other Australians (Table 3).
Other unintentional causes
Note: Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
Source: AIHW National Hospital Mortality Database.
The cause of injury death with the largest difference in rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians was homicide, which was 4.3 times as high in the Indigenous population. Rates of death for accidental poisoning, transport accidents, and suicide were more than twice as high for Indigenous Australians (Table 4). Readers are advised to use caution when using the rates in categories with low numbers of deaths.
The age-specific rate of injury hospitalisations was highest among the 25–44 life-stage age group for Indigenous Australians and among the 65-and-over age group for other Australians (Figure 12).
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent data for Indigenous and other 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 A4–6 and D4–6.
Areas of Australia which are more remote tend to have higher rates of injury hospitalisation and death than less remote areas. In 2018–19, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were:
Note: Rates are age-standardised per to the 2001 Australian population (100,000) population.
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database; AIHW National Mortality Database.
The cause of injury with the largest difference in hospitalisation rates between remoteness areas was assault, with the rate for Very remote areas 17 times that of Major cities (Table 6). Thermal causes showed the next highest difference—the rate for Very remote areas was 4.3 times that of Major cities.
All other causes
Note: Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database; AIHW National Hospital Mortality Database.
Age-standardised rates of death by cause of injury in Remote and Very remote areas need to interpreted with caution because of low numbers of deaths in some categories. In the case of transport accidents, the rate for those living in Very remote areas was 5.6 times the rate for Major cities.
For further detail see Data tables A7–9 and D7–9.
The highest age-specific rate of injury hospitalisations was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Very remote areas of Australia. (Figure 13).
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent 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 or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A7–9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see Technical notes.
Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.
Data tables—download full data tables.
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Life expectancy & deaths (topic)
This report aims to count and describe injury incidents that result in hospital admission/s or death.
Our counting method is different to some other AIHW reporting, where each use of a service may be counted (e.g. MyHospitals), rather than each causal incident. A single incident can lead to more than one use of a service. Our exclusion method minimises double-counting where possible.
If a person dies from an injury after being admitted to hospital, both the hospitalisation and the death were counted for this report.
The terms ‘injury hospitalisation’, ‘hospitalised injury’ and ‘hospitalised case’ in this report refer to incidents where a person was admitted to hospital with injury as the main reason. If a single incident led to an admission in more than one hospital, the incident has only been counted once. Details are in the Technical notes.
To avoid double-counting hospitalised injuries, we have excluded admissions that are transfers from another hospital and admissions with rehabilitation procedures (except for acute hospital admissions).
Emergency department (ED) care is a form of non-admitted hospital care and not counted here. See the AIHW MyHospitals topic for information on ED presentations due to injury.
Injuries caused by complications of surgery or other medical care, or injuries that are a subsequent condition caused by a previous injury, are not included in this report.
For details about methodology, see the Technical notes.
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