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In 2009, 444 of the 12,566 deaths registered in WA were identified as being of an Indigenous person . Based on the under-identification of Indigenous people in death registrations, the actual number of Indigenous deaths is likely to be between 480 and 620 (see above) .
The following summary measures of mortality are based on the numbers of registered deaths, so some caution should be exercised in their interpretation.
In 2005-2007, after adjustment for the incompleteness of identification of Indigenous people in death registrations, the ABS estimates that Indigenous males born in WA could be expected to live to 65.0 years, 14 years less than the 79.0 years expected for non-Indigenous males  (Life expectancy at birth is the number of years a person born in the reference year can expect to live if they experience the current age-specific death rates. (Estimates were not available for WA and South Australia (SA) separately). In 2005-2007, the expectation of life at birth of 70.4 years for Indigenous females born in WA was almost 13 years less than the expectation of 82.9 years for non-Indigenous females born in WA. For the same time period, the estimates for Indigenous people nation-wide were 67.2 years for males and 72.9 years for females .
In 2009, the median age at death for Indigenous males in WA was 50.6 years, which was 26.7 years less than for non-Indigenous males (77.3 years) 3 . The median age at death for WA Indigenous females was 58.7 years, 24.9 years less than for WA non-Indigenous females (83.6 years).
In 2005-2009, death rates in WA were higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people across all age groups, with rate ratios highest in the middle adult years (Table 3) 4 . (These ratios, being based on the numbers of deaths registered, are likely to underestimate the true differences between death rates for Indigenous people and the total population by 10-30%.) The greatest difference occurred among females and males aged 35-44 with rates nearly eight times those recorded for non-Indigenous males and females.
|Indigenous||Non-Indigenous||Rate ratio||Indigenous||Non-Indigenous||Rate ratio|
Source: AIHW, 2010 .
|65 and over||7765||3913||2.0||6924||3455||2.0|
In 2007-2009, the infant mortality rate of 7.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births for Indigenous people in WA was nearly three times the rate of 2.7 per 1,000 for non-Indigenous Western Australians . (The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of children under one year of age in a calendar year per 1,000 live births in the same calendar year.) The rate of 10.3 per 1,000 for Indigenous males was higher than the rate of 5.1 per 1,000 for Indigenous females.
In 2009, the most common causes of death for Indigenous people in WA were ischaemic heart disease and diabetes, which were responsible for 14.4% and 8.4% respectively of all Indigenous deaths5 (Table 4).
|Cause of death||Males (no.)||Females (no.)||Proportion of all Indigenous deaths (%)|
Source: Derived from ABS 2011 .
|Ischaemic heart disease||40||24||64|
|Land transport accidents||19||7||26|
|Intentional self-harm (suicide)||19||5||24|
|Malignant neoplasm (cancer) of trachea, bronchus and lung||14||5||19|
|Diseases of the urinary system||8||11||19|
|Chronic lower respiratory disease||8||9||17|
The most recent valid data for comparing causes of death for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people reveal that the standardised mortality ratios (SMR) for cardiovascular disease (also known as ‘diseases of the circulatory system’ for males and females living in Queensland (Qld), WA, SA and the Northern Territory (NT) in 2001-2005 were 3.2 and 2.7 respectively (Table 5). For Indigenous males in 2001-2005, the next most frequent causes of death were injuries (including transport accidents, intentional self-harm and assault) (2.9 times the number expected from rates for the total male population of Qld, WA, SA and the NT), malignant neoplasms (cancers) (1.5); diseases of the respiratory system (4.3); and endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders (mainly diabetes) (7.5). For Indigenous females, the most frequent causes of death after cardiovascular disease was malignant neoplasms (1.6); injuries (3.5); endocrine, nutritional and metabolic disorders (10.1); and diseases of the respiratory system (3.6) .
|Cause of death||Males||Females|
Source: AIHW, 2008 .
|External causes (inc. Injuries)||851||2.9||369||3.5|
|Neoplasms (inc. Cancer)||592||1.5||547||1.6|
|Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic||315||7.5||367||10.1|
|Mental and behavioural disorders||101||5.8||72||3.1|