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Life expectancy and mortality

Potentially avoidable deaths

Potentially avoidable deaths are deaths of people under age 75 that could potentially have been prevented by timely health care or treatment.

In 2014–2018, there were 14,734 deaths among Indigenous Australians. Of these, 11,694 were deaths of persons aged under 75 – termed, premature deaths. Out of these, 7,093 deaths were considered potentially avoidable (Figure LM 8).


In 2014–2018, potentially avoidable deaths represented 60.7% of all deaths among Indigenous Australians aged less than 75. The proportion was slightly higher for Indigenous males, compared to Indigenous females (61.5% and 59.5%, respectively) (Figure LM 9).


Potentially avoidable death rates generally increase with age, similarly to deaths from all causes. The highest rate of potentially avoidable deaths occurred in Indigenous Australians aged 65–74 (1,371 per 100,000 population).

Comparing these with deaths from all causes, the great majority (85%) of deaths in 2014–2018 among Indigenous 15–24 year olds were potentially avoidable (Figure LM 10).


In 2014–2018, the causes of death resulting in the highest numbers of potentially avoidable deaths among Indigenous Australians (aged 0–74 years) were:

  • coronary heart disease (1,507 deaths)
  • diabetes (841)
  • suicide and self-inflicted injuries (792)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (584)
  • cancer (572) (Figure LM 11).

Based on long-term trends, potentially avoidable death rates for Indigenous Australians decreased by around 19 per cent between 2006 and 2018 (Figure LM 12).