This report presents trends in the number of injury-related deaths in Australia from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2017, by year of death. It also provides a summary of injury deaths in 2016–17. Three reports presenting data in a similar way on hospitalised injury have been published (AIHW: Pointer 2013, 2015, 2018).

Most injuries, which includes suicide and poisonings, occur in circumstances such as car crashes, inter-personal violence, home maintenance, sporting and recreational activities, and work. Injury deaths that occurred in these types of community settings are the focus of this report.

Structure of this report

This report presents an overview of injury deaths in 2016–17, and trends in injury deaths and death rates, overall and for deaths involving major external causes of injury.

  • Overview of inury deaths presents an overview of injury deaths in Australia including time series information.
  • There are also analyses for each major external cause of injury-related deaths.
  • Appendix A provides summary information on: the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) mortality data collection, which underlies the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Mortality Database; other data sources used in the report; and notes on the presentation of data, the population estimates used to calculate population rates, and analysis methods. Additional information on data sources, validity and methods, and the effects of changes made to the recording and classification of cause-of-death information have previously been reported for 1999–2010 (AIHW: Harrison & Henley 2015).
  • Appendix B presents additional summary statistics for transport-related deaths involving motor vehicle traffic in 2016–17.
  • Appendix C provides information on injury deaths counts reference year, and ABS release for the Cause of Death Unit Record File (CODURF).

Section structure

In this report, sections are structured to address the following common set of questions:

  • What data are reported?
  • How many injury deaths were there in 2016–17?
  • How have injury deaths changed over time?
  • How have injury deaths varied by age and sex?
  • How have injury deaths varied by place of usual residence?
  • How have injury deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people changed over time?


What data are reported?

The main source for the injury deaths data presented in this report is the series of ABS Cause of Death Unit Record Files (CODURF) for reference years 1999–2017.

CODURF data are provided to the AIHW by the state and territory registries of births, deaths and marriages and the National Coronial Information System (NCIS), and are coded by the ABS. The data are maintained by the AIHW in the National Mortality Database (NMD).

Underlying cause of death (UCoD) and multiple causes of death (MCoD) information for deaths presented in this report was coded by the ABS according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision (ICD-10).

Other data sources were used to obtain supplementary information for some external causes of injury death. These are specified where they are used.

How are data presented?

Data are reported according to the year in which each death occurred. ‘Years’ are the 12-month periods ending on 30 June.

The ABS now releases 3 versions of CODURF—Preliminary, Revised, and Final—as part of its revision process to update coroner-certified deaths as new information becomes available on the cause of death. The cause codes assigned to injury deaths can change between releases. The revision process and its implications for the data used in this report are discussed further in Appendix A.

When analysis was done for this report, Final release data were available for none of the injury deaths that occurred in 2015–16 and 2016–17, and for only 42% of injury deaths that occurred in 2014–15. Values for these years could change a little due to later revisions of cause-of-death data by the ABS, and triangle markers have been used distinguish these values in trend graphs.

Data for more than 99% of the injury deaths that occurred in earlier years was either Final, or predated the introduction of the ABS revision process, and so these values are not expected to change.

In tables and charts, unless stated otherwise:

  • the age is as at the date of death
  • deaths for which table variables—such as age and sex—were not reported are included in totals
  • rates are age-standardised.

Further information is provided in Appendix A.

Which deaths were included?

Deaths were considered as being due to injury and poisoning, and were included in this report, if they met the following criteria:

  • the death occurred between 1 July 1999 and 30 June 2017, and had been registered by 31 December 2017, and
  • the UCoD was an external cause code in the range V01–Y36, or
  • at least 1 MCoD was an external cause code in the range V01–Y36, and at least 1 other MCoD was a code for injury (S00–T75 or T79).

The codes are from the World Health Organization (WHO) ICD-10 (WHO 2016).

The code range V01–Y36 includes all unintentional (accidental) deaths, intentional self-harm (suicide), homicides, and deaths where intent remained undetermined. This code range also includes: traumatic injuries (such as fractures and lacerations); burns; poisoning and toxic effects of substances; and certain other effects of external causes, such as drowning, asphyxiation, effects of radiation, heat, pressure, deprivation, and maltreatment.

Details on the criteria for each topic are given at the start of each section.

Important terms about the data used in this report are summarised in Box 1.1, Box 1.2, and the Glossary.

Box 1.1: Key terms and concepts

An external cause is the environmental event, circumstance, or condition that was the cause of injury or poisoning.

Multiple causes of death (MCoD) are defined as all causes listed on the death certificate. This includes the underlying cause of death and all associated causes of death. This information is useful for describing the role of all diseases involved in deaths, especially for chronic diseases, where more than 1 disease usually contributes to the death.

The underlying cause of death (UCoD) code represents the external cause of the injury that initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to a person’s death, according to information available to the coder.

The diseases or conditions recorded on the death certificate consist of:

  • the cause that led directly to the death (the UCoD)
  • the causes that gave rise to the underlying cause of death
  • the causes of death that contributed to the death, but were not related to the disease or condition causing it.

Coding is according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision (ICD-10), which includes a chapter for injury, and another for external causes of injuries and other conditions. Rules that form part of the ICD determine which cause should be coded as the UCoD.

Box 1.2: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reporting

Indigenous status data are considered to be of sufficient quality for statistical reporting for the period from 2001–02 onwards for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.

These 5 jurisdictions represent close to 88% of the total Indigenous population.

Appendix A provides further information.

Box 1.3: Socioeconomic area

Socioeconomic factors both influence and reflect health, and many recent AIHW reports on injury include measures the socioeconomic areas in which people live.

The information is usually based on the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) developed by the ABS. SEIFA indexes rank areas in Australia according to relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage, estimated using information collected each 5 years in the national Census of Population and Housing (ABS 2018).

Each of the 4 SEIFA indexes is based on a set of variables, such as the percentage of people who lived in low- or high-income households, who had particular educational attainment or employment status, and the percentage of dwellings with characteristics such as high rent or mortgage repayments, or spare rooms available.

Appendix A provides further information.

Supplementary tables

The data underpinning the figures in the body of the report are provided in supplementary tables. Each tab within the spreadsheet contains the data for 1 figure, and the name of the tab corresponds to the figure number within the report. (For example, worksheet tab Table SF2.3 corresponds to Figure 2.3 in the report.)

The spreadsheet also contains some tables that correspond to data mentioned in the text of the report. These worksheet tabs are named ‘Table S.1’, ‘Table S.2’, and so on.