This report describes trends in the occurrence of injury deaths in Australia from 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2010 and provides a summary of injury deaths in 2009-10. The information is based on all causes of death recorded on death certificates - that is, the underlying cause of death and any other causes.

Injury deaths in 2009-10

Injury was recorded as a cause of 10,668 deaths in 2009-10 in Australia, corresponding to a crude rate of 49 deaths per 100,000 population. Rates were 61 (males) and 37 (females) per 100,000).

Rates were highest in the oldest age groups: 177 (males) and 164 (females) per 100,000 aged 65 and older. Rates for males were much higher than for females except in the oldest and youngest groups. At 15-24 years, the rates were 41 (males) and 13 (females) per 100,000.

The age-standardised injury death rate for residents of the Northern Territory-93 deaths per 100,000 population-was about twice the national rate. The age-standardised injury death rate tended to increase with increasing remoteness of place of residence. The rate for residents of Remote areas (75 deaths per 100,000 population) was 1.8 times the rate for residents of the Major cities (41 per 100,000 population).

The 2 main causes of injury deaths in 2009-10 were unintentional falls (33%; 3,480 deaths) and suicide (21%, 2,247 deaths). More than 93% (3,251) of fall injury deaths occurred at ages 65 and older. There were more than 3 times as many male suicides (1,710) as female suicides (537).

Trends in injury deaths

The age-standardised rate of injury deaths decreased by an average of 3% per year, from 55 to 47 deaths per 100,000 between 1999-00 and 2004-05, and changed little after that. The number of injury deaths varied, but was close to around 10,000 per year during this period.

Rates of injury deaths involving most external causes tended to decline from 1999-00 to 2007-08, by 4.1% per year for transport injury, 3.2% for thermal injury, 2.7% for suicide and 5.2% for homicide. Drowning rates declined by an average of 5.5% per year to 2007-08 then rose. Rates of poisoning deaths involving pharmaceuticals fell sharply to 2001-02, then rose by 2.2% per year to 2007-08. Rates of fall injury deaths did not show a marked trend.

Analysis of changes in rates over time was complicated, especially for some external causes of injury, due to changes in the way that causes have been recorded and classified over recent years. An accompanying technical report describes the changes in detail.

Trends in injury deaths among Indigenous people

Age-standardised injury death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fluctuated but tended to decline over the period from 1999-00 to 2009-10. Rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 2 to 3 times as high as rates for Other Australians over this period.