Deakin Rural Health

Morbidity and Mortality

Life Expectancy

  • Life expectancy was estimated to be 59.4 years for Indigenous males and 64.8 years for Indigenous females, compared with estimates of 76.6 years for all Australian males and 82.0 years for all Australian females.
  • The death rates for Indigenous people exceeded those for all Australians in every age group, with the risk of death for those aged 35-54 being 6-8 times greater than the national average.
  • Indigenous infant mortality is 2 to 3 times higher than that for other Australian children.
  • Infectious diseases are 12 times higher among Indigenous people than the Australian average.

(Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission, 2008, Face the Facts)

Causes of Death for Indigenous People

The Indigenous mortality rate is 3.1 times higher than would be expected for males and 2.6 times higher for females. It may be even higher due to probable under-identification of Indigenous people in death registrations.

Causes of Death – Male/Female*  

  • Endocrine, nutritional & metabolic – 7.5/10.6
  • Genito-urinary – 4.8/7.1
  • Infectious/parasitic – 5.0/5.3
  • Digestive – 5.2/4.7
  • Mental/Behavioural disorders – 6.0/2.5
  • Respiratory – 4.1/3.7
  • Injuries – 2.8/3.3
  • Circulatory – 3.1/2.6
  • Nervous – 2.6/1.6
  • Cancer – 1.5/1.5

* Rates quoted as Standardised Mortality Rates (SMR) that adjust actual rates for age.

(ABS 2006 census, cited in Overview of Australian Indigenous Health 2008, www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au)

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