This report describes trends in the occurrence of injuries requiring hospitalisation in Australia from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2011. The annual number of cases rose from about 327,000 to 438,000 during this period.

Injuries in 2010-11

Overall, injuries were more common among males (249,455 cases) compared with females (188,921 cases). Case numbers and population-based rates were higher for males than females for all age groups to 60-64, the largest difference being for ages 15-24. Rates were higher for females than males for age groups 65-69 and older. The oldest group had the highest rates.

The average length of stay in hospital as a result of an injury was 4 days (more than 1.7 million days for 438,382 cases). Length of stay in hospital increased with age to an average of 9 days for people aged 65+. About 1 in 6 injury cases were classified as high threat to life. The percentage of high threat to life cases increased with age to 32% of cases at 65+.

Two of the main causes of injury in 2010-11 were falls (39%) and transport accidents (12%). Over 170,000 people were hospitalised as a result of a fall in 2010-11, 53% of the cases occurring at ages 65+. Of fall cases at ages 0-64, 42% were females, while 69% of cases at older ages were females. Transport injuries were more common in males (35,658 cases) than females (17,331 cases) and rates were highest for age group 15-24.

Trends in injury hospitalisations

The age-standardised rate of hospitalised injury increased from 1999-00 to 2010-11 by an average of 1% per year. The rate of injury was 1,724 cases per 100,000 population at the beginning of the period and by the end the rate was 1,897 per 100,000.

Increases in age-standardised rates across the period were found for injuries due to: falls (2% increase per year), intentional self-harm (1% increase per year), assaults (1% increase per year) and the residual group other unintentional injuries (1.4% increase per year). Significant decreases occurred in the rate of hospitalisations due to poisoning by pharmaceuticals (5% per year) and by other substances (4% per year), and drowning and near drowning (1% decrease per year, and 3% for children 0-4). Significant trends were not observed for transport, or exposure to smoke, fire, heat and hot substances.

Trends in injury among Indigenous people

Analysis of the trends in hospitalised injury among Indigenous people is complicated by a break in series from 2007-08 when Indigenous identification improved to allow the inclusion of two additional states and territories, New South Wales and Victoria, to cases from Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.

Rates of injury among Indigenous people increased from 3,370 cases per 100,000 population in 2007-08 to 3,838 per 100,000 in 2010-11. Analysis of different injury types revealed increases in rates of poisoning by pharmaceuticals, falls, intentional self-harm and other unintentional injuries during this time.