This report describes changes in death rates, for a number of causes, in Major Cities, Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote areas, between 1992 and 2003.

Overall, death rates for males and females in Major Cities declined by 4 points p.a. for males and 3 points p.a. for females. The rate of decline in regional and Remote areas was similar (although slightly lower for males in Inner Regional areas). The rate of decline in Very Remote areas (5 points p.a.) was greater than that in Major Cities.

Both the pace and the direction of change in death rates differed between causes.

There are several causes of death identified as being the main contributors to higher death rates in regional and remote areas (AIHW 2003).

The most numerically important four of these causes (in terms of raising regional and remote death rates) are coronary heart disease, ‘other’ circulatory diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and motor vehicle traffic accidents. For both sexes, there has been a decrease over time in the rate of death due to these causes (although for women, there has been essentially no change in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease death rates over the period).

For diabetes and suicide, there have not been consistent or substantial decreases, and in a number of areas, there have been increases in the rate of death from these causes.

For the other causes (‘other’ injuries, and for lung, colorectal and prostate cancers), there have also been decreases in death rates over time. However, for women there was little change in the rate of death from ‘other injuries’ and there was an increase in the rate of lung cancer death.