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Data Collection Overview

Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, Death Registration Collection

Data Collection Sources

NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages – Death Registration Statement provided by funeral director and completed by spouse, partner or relative of deceased and Medical Certificate of Cause of Death supplied by the certified medical practitioner certifying the death or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation.

Institutional environments

The Death 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 deaths is compulsory in Australia.

Relevance and Scope

The Register includes all deaths that occur in NSW. Stillbirths or fetal deaths are not recorded in the Death Register but are recorded as births. For reporting purposes, statistics about stillbirths are published by the ABS in Causes of Death, Australia.

Timeliness

A funeral director or other person who arranges for the disposal of human remains must within 7 days after disposal of the remains give the Registrar a notice, in a form and manner required by the Registrar.
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. One dimension of timeliness in death registrations data is the interval between the occurrence and registration of a death. As a result, a small number of deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later.

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.
For the most part, statistics in the ABS publication refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a death (referred to as a registration 'lag'), and as a result, some deaths occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay in the submission of a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the death. Deaths which occur in November and December are also likely to be registered in the following year.
For some infant deaths, only limited information for age at death is known. These deaths are included in the following categories:
§ not stated minutes and not stated hours (i.e. age at death was under one day) are included in 'Under one day';
§ not stated days (i.e. age at death was at least one day but under one month) are included in 'One week to under four weeks'; or
§ not stated months (i.e. age at death was at least one month but under one year) are included in 'Four weeks to under one year'.
Although it is considered likely that most deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are registered, for a proportion of these deaths, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status is not registered. Information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred and may differ from the self-identified Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin of the deceased. Forms are often not subject to the same best practice design principles as statistical questionnaires, and respondent and/or interviewer understanding is rarely tested. Over-precise analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and mortality should be avoided.

Accessibility

Data can be requested from the NSW Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages. Aggregate death 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 publications are Deaths, Australia, 2012 and Causes of Death, Australia 2011.

Interpretability

Deaths statistics are generally straightforward and easy to interpret. It should be noted, however, that changes in numbers of deaths over time can be due to a number of factors including changes in mortality and changes in the size and age/sex structure of the population. For this reason, deaths data needs to be considered in relation to the size of the relevant population(s) through the use of mortality rates.
Information of mortality 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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