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Deaths data are useful for:

  • understanding death and the fatal burden of disease in the overall population at a point in time 
  • monitoring trends in death, specific causes of death and life expectancy over time 
  • investigating differences between population groups such as people living in areas of different remoteness and socioeconomic status, people born in different countries and Indigenous people 
  • informing health policy, planning, investment and administration of the health care system across all its tiers, including in relation to population health interventions and health system changes 
  • informing the work of epidemiologists and other public health researchers. 

There were 147,678 deaths registered in Australia in 2013

Dash 2 in 3 deaths among aged 75 and over PNG

2 in 3

deaths occurred among people aged 75 or over.

See premature mortality in Australia for more information on deaths among people aged younger than 75.

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was the decline in mortality from all causes in Australia between 1907 and 2013.

See General Record of Incidence Mortality (GRIM) books for data on long-term trends in causes of death.

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3 in 10

deaths were due to circulatory diseases in 2013. The leading cause of death in Australia was coronary heart disease.

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4 in 5

deaths due to natural causes involved more than one disease.

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4.2 years

was the difference in life expectancy between males (80.1 years) and females (84.3 years) born in 2011–2013.


1.4 times

People living in Remote and Very remote areas had mortality rates 1.4 times as high as those people living in Major cities. Despite relatively high standards of health and health care in Australia, substantial mortality inequalities exist between population groups.

Dashboard graphic for 10.6 Indigenous gap life expectancy

10.6 years

was the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous males (69.1 years) and non-Indigenous males (79.7 years) born in 2010–12; the gap was 9.5 years for females (73.7 and 83.1 years, respectively).



was the number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Australia in 2013. This represents a decline of more than 95% since 1907, an important improvement in child health, development and wellbeing.

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1 in 2

or 51% of the deaths that occurred during 2011–12 were among people admitted to a hospital. They often received palliative care.

Why are deaths data important?

Looking at how many people die and what caused their death can provide vital information about the health of a population. Examining patterns and trends in deaths can help explain differences and changes in the health of a population, contribute to the evaluation of health strategies and interventions, and guide planning and policy-making.

Cause-specific death statistics provide insight into the events that contribute to deaths and to the burden of disease. Causes of death are documented on a death certificate and can be classified into disease groups. The coding of death certificates produces an underlying cause and, for many deaths, one or more associated causes of death.

Underlying, associated, and multiple causes of death

Death statistics are often based on the underlying cause of death only—that is, the disease or injury that initiated the train of events leading directly to death, or the circumstances of the accident or violence that produced the fatal injury. Analysis of the underlying cause of death is important because it points to where interventions can be targeted.

Leading cause of death statistics presented here are based on the underlying cause of death.

Associated causes of death are all causes listed on the death certificate, other than the underlying cause of death. They include the immediate cause, any intervening causes, and conditions which contributed to the death but were not related to the disease or condition causing the death. Analyses using associated causes of death may offer insight into the disease processes occurring at the end of life or, for injury causes of death, the nature of the injury.

Multiple causes of death statistics are based on both the underlying and associated causes of death.

Changes in the pattern of causes of death may reflect changes in behaviours, exposures, health interventions, social and environmental circumstances and the effects of medical and technological advances.

Year of occurrence and year of registration

Trends may be presented by year of occurrence of death or year of registration of death.

Using year of occurrence of death is common when the exact time period of the death is important (for example, seasonal deaths) however the latest data available underestimates the occurrence of recent deaths due to a lag in registration.

For this reason, year of registration of death is often used to allow the latest year of data to be compared to previous years.

In both cases the latest year of data are coded with preliminary causes of death information and may underestimate causes of death that are usually certified by a coroner (for example, external causes of death including suicide).

Unless otherwise specified, deaths statistics presented here are based on year of registration of death.

For more information on how deaths are registered, coded and updated, see about deaths data.