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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 2015–2019, there were 15,436 deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Of these, 12,206 were deaths of persons aged under 75 – termed, premature deaths. Out of these, 7,366 deaths were considered potentially avoidable (Figure LM 8).


In 2015–2019, potentially avoidable deaths represented 60.3% of all deaths among Indigenous Australians aged less than 75. The proportion was slightly higher for Indigenous males, compared to Indigenous females (61.0% 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 (1,383 per 100,000 population).

Comparing these with deaths from all causes, the great majority (86%) of deaths among Indigenous Australians aged 15–24 were potentially avoidable in 2015–2019 (Figure LM 10).


In 2015–2019, the causes of death resulting in the highest numbers of potentially avoidable deaths among Indigenous Australians (aged 0–74 years) were:

  • coronary heart disease (1,560 deaths)
  • diabetes (868)
  • suicide and self-inflicted injuries (843)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (651)
  • cancer (587) (Figure LM 11).

Based on long-term trends, potentially avoidable death rates for Indigenous Australians decreased by around 13 per cent between 2006 and 2019 (Figure LM 12).