• To provide semi-national Indigenous mortality rates from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Australia
  • To investigate RHD mortality rates and trends for Indigenous compared with non-Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory (NT) for the period 1977-2005 and semi-nationally from 1997-2005.


Indigenous identification in death registrations is of high quality in the NT from 1977 and in four other states (New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia) from 1997. These five jurisdictions include 84% of Indigenous Australians.

Using national cause of death and population data, we investigated RHD mortality for the NT for 1977- 2005 and five jurisdictions combined (providing semi-national statistics) for 1997-2005, examining (for RHD as the underlying cause of death):

  • number of deaths
  • age-specific and age-adjusted death rates
  • for the NT only, regression analysis of time trends over a 29 year period.
  • All analysis was by undertaken by Indigenous status, gender, age at death and (for the NT only) year of death. We also compared the NT to the other four states.
Implications for policy and practice:

This mortality study will provide a comprehensive review of RHD mortality in Australia, with a focus on understanding the disparity in mortality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Our research has found: 

Analysis is not yet completed, data will be provided in mid - 2013.

Chief investigator and project manager:

Samantha Colquhoun

Project dates:

The project commenced in 2011 and concluded in 2013.

  • Northern Territory Department of Health, Health Gains Planning Branch