Deaths & remoteness

Mortality rates in Australia increase with remoteness. In 2015, people living in Remote and very remote areas had a mortality rate 1.3 times as high as people living in Major cities (655 per 100,000 population compared with 522 per 100,000).

The higher death rates outside major cities, especially in remote areas, may reflect the higher proportions of populations in those areas who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians. Indigenous Australians tend to have higher mortality rates and are more likely to live outside metropolitan areas when compared to non-Indigenous Australians [1].

Figure 1: Total deaths (age-standardised rate), by remoteness, 2015

Bar chart shows death rates increased with remoteness in 2015, from 522 per 100,000 people in Major Cities to 655 in Very Remote areas.

Leading causes of death in rural areas

In 2015:

  • Coronary heart disease was the leading cause of death for all areas across Australia, with mortality rates 1.3 times higher in Remote and very remote areas compared with Major cities.
  • People living in combined Remote and very remote areas were 2.3 times as likely to die from diabetes, compared to those living in Major cities. Suicide was 1.7 times as high.
  • The rate of dying due to road transport accidents was more than 5 times as high in Remote and very remote areas than in Major cities (AIHW unpublished analysis of National Mortality Database). 


  1. ABS & AIHW 2008. The health and welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2008. Cat. no. IHW 21. Canberra: AIHW.