This report describes trends in the occurrence of injury deaths in Australia from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2012 and provides a summary of injury deaths in 2011–12. The information is based on all causes of death recorded on death certificates.

Injury deaths in 2011–12

Injury was recorded as a cause of 11,192 deaths in 2011–12 in Australia, corresponding to an age-standardised rate of 46 deaths per 100,000 population (males 61, females 31).

Rates were highest in the oldest age group: 186 and 170 per 100,000 for men and women aged 65 and older. Rates for males were much higher than for females except in the oldest and youngest groups. At ages 15–24, the rates for male and females were 41 and 16 per 100,000 respectively.

The age-standardised injury death rate for residents of the Northern Territory, 92 deaths per 100,000 population, was about twice the national rate. The age-standardised injury death rate tended to increase with increasing remoteness of place of residence. The rate for residents of Remote areas (76 deaths per 100,000 ) was 1.9 times the rate for residents of Major cities (41 per 100,000). The age-standardised rate of injury death increased with socioeconomic disadvantage. The rate for residents of the Most disadvantaged areas was 1.5 times the rate for residents of the Most advantaged areas.

The 2 main causes of injury deaths in 2011–12 were unintentional falls (35%, 3,903 deaths) and suicide (22%, 2,496 deaths). Over 94% (3,682) of fall-related injury deaths were at ages 65 and older. There were more than 3 times as many male suicides (1,904) as female (592).

Trends in injury deaths

The age-standardised rate of injury deaths decreased from 55.4 deaths per 100,000 in 1999–00 to 47.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2004–05 and changed little after that. The number of injury deaths varied, but was around 10,000 per year during this period.

Rates of injury deaths declined from 1999–00 to 2009–10, by an average of 4.0% per year for transport injury and 3.4% for homicide. Drowning rates declined by an average of 4.8% per year to 2007–08 then rose. Rates of poisoning deaths involving pharmaceuticals fell sharply to 2001–02, then rose to 2009–10, while rates of poisoning deaths involving other substances declined by 6.8% per year until 2004–05 before rising again. Rates of suicide deaths declined to 2004–05 and remained relatively steady thereafter.

Analysis of changes in rates over time for some causes of injury was complicated, due to changes in the way that causes have been recorded and classified over recent years.

Trends in injury deaths of Indigenous Australians

Age-standardised injury death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fluctuated, but showed a general, although not statistically significant, decline over the period from 2001–02 to 2011–12. Rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were generally at least twice as high as rates for non-Indigenous Australians over this period.