This report describes trends in the occurrence of injury deaths in Australia from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2017, and provides a summary of injury deaths in 2016–17. The information is based on all causes of death recorded on death certificates.

Injury deaths in 2016–17

Injury was recorded as a cause of 13,144 deaths in 2016–17 in Australia (8% of all deaths in that year)—an age-standardised rate of 48 deaths per 100,000 population (64 for males; 32 for females).

Rates were highest in those aged 65 and over—196 per 100,000 men, and 180 per 100,000 women. Rates for males were at least twice as high as rates for females in all other age groups, except in children aged 0–4, where male rates were 1.6 times as high.

The age-standardised injury death rate was highest for residents of the Northern Territory—82 deaths per 100,000 population—1.7 times the national rate.

Rates rose with increasing remoteness of place of residence—the rate for residents of Very remote areas (87 deaths per 100,000 population) was more than twice the rate for residents of Major cities (43 per 100,000).
Rates also rose with socioeconomic disadvantage, although rates for people living in the 2 lowest socioeconomic areas were similar. The rate for residents living in the 2 lowest socioeconomic areas was 1.4 times the rate for those living in the highest socioeconomic areas.

The 2 main causes of injury deaths were Unintentional falls (38%; 5,002 deaths) and Suicide (23%, 3,039 deaths). Almost 95% (4,728) of fall-related injury deaths occurred among people aged 65 and over. There were 2.9 times as many male suicides (2,253) as female suicides (786).

Trends in injury deaths

The age-standardised rate of injury deaths fell from 55.4 deaths per 100,000 population 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 about 10,000 per year during this period.

Rates of injury deaths declined from 1999–00 to 2016–17, by an average of 3.7% per year for transport-related injury, 2.6% for drowning, and 2.3% for homicide.

Rates of poisoning deaths involving pharmaceuticals fell sharply to 2001–02, then rose to 2016–17, particularly for men aged 25–64 and women aged 45–64.

Rates of fall-related injury deaths, poisoning deaths involving substances other than pharmaceuticals, thermal-related injury deaths, and suicide deaths did not show a significant trend, despite a large peak in thermal injury deaths in 2008–09.

Age-standardised injury death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fluctuated but did not change significantly between 2001–02 and 2016–17. Rates fell for transport injury and rose for cases involving pharmaceuticals.

Rates for Indigenous Australians were generally at least twice as high as for non-Indigenous Australians over this period.