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Data Collection Overview

Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, Birth Registration Collection

Data Collection Sources

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages – Birth Registration Statement completed by parents and notification by either the hospital of birth or a doctor or registered midwife who attended the birth (if outside a hospital). For stillbirths a Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death is completed by the medical practitioner and forwarded either by the Funeral Director or the hospital.

Institutional environments

The Birth Registry is administered under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Regulation 2011 (still in draft consultation stage) by the NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Registration of births is compulsory in Australia.

Relevance and Scope

The Register includes all births that occur in NSW including stillbirths. In addition to the administrative Birth Registration information (required under the Regulations) additional information is collected for stillbirths on the Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death. This information is gathered for statistical purposes and forwarded to the ABS for coding and collation at a national level.
A stillbirth is defined as follows:
• “stillborn child” means a child that exhibits no sign of respiration or heartbeat, or other sign of life, after birth and that:
(a) is of at least 20 weeks’ gestation, or
(b) if it cannot be reliably established whether the period of gestation is more or less than 20 weeks, has a body mass of at least 400 grams at birth.
Although stillbirths are registered as a birth, for reporting purposes these are accounted for in perinatal death statistics published in Causes of Death, Australia and previously, in Perinatal Deaths, Australia.

Timeliness

Parents are required to register a birth within 60 days. The NSW Register of Births Deaths and Marriages does not produce its own reports but provides data electronically to the ABS on a monthly basis for compilation into aggregate statistics on a quarterly and annual basis.

Accuracy

Data are subject to non-sampling error, which can arise from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing of data. These include: misreporting of data items; non-response to particular questions; and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise error by working closely with data providers, the careful design of forms, training of processing staff and efficient data processing procedures.
Another dimension of non-sampling error in birth registrations data is the interval between the occurrence and registration of a birth. As a result, some births occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or even later. This can be caused by either a delay by the parent(s) in submitting a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the birth (for example, due to follow up activity due to missing information on the form, or resource limitations).

Accessibility

Data can be requested from the NSW Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages. Aggregate birth data can be accessed from the ABS website in both report format and in data cubes. Some summary statistics (150KB PDF) are available on the NSW Registry website. The latest publication is Births, Australia, 2012 available from the ABS website.

Interpretability

Births statistics are generally straightforward and easy to interpret. It should be noted, however, that changes in numbers of births over time can be due to two factors: changes in fertility and changes in the number of women of child-bearing ages. For this reason, births data need to be considered in relation to the size of the relevant population(s) through the use of fertility rates.
Another aspect that may be overlooked is plurality, or the fact that each birth of a multiple birth is counted individually in births data. Confinement statistics remove the effect of plurality and are used when analysing characteristics of the mother or father; for example, for calculating median ages.
Information on fertility rates as well as data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with the statistics presented in this publication can be found in the Explanatory Notes, Appendices and Glossary.

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