NT Child Deaths Review and Prevention Committee annual report 2009-2010
The Children's Commissioner Northern Territory reports; Reports; PublicationNT
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Children, Aboriginal Australian -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Death -- Causes -- Statistics -- Periodicals; Children and death -- Periodicals
Office of the Children’s Commissioner Northern Territory
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Page 21 Chapter 3 Issues Pertaining to Child Death Data in NT Sources of Data on Child Deaths The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes a series of reports and tables on deaths that occur in all Australian jurisdictions. These reports, based on data forwarded by the various jurisdictions, provide information on distribution by age and gender, death rates, causes of death and Indigenous status, and the accompanying tables provide the analysis of trends over time. A particular problem for child death review committees such as the one in the Northern Territory is that there is a considerable lag between the date of death as recorded by the NT BDM Registry and the publication of the ABS reports. The most recent report on causes of death was published in March 2010 and focused on deaths recorded to the end of 2008 (ABS, 2010). There are a number of other limitations with the ABS data. For example, they record only the medical causes of death and not the related or underlying causes such as the social factors that may have contributed to the deaths. Another difficulty is that the ABS child death tables do not provide data for each individual year of age so that deaths of 17-year olds, for example, are included in the 15-19 age grouping. Because of these limitations, it is not possible for child death review committees to base their reviews and recommendations on ABS reports. Another possible data source is the National Coroners Information System (NCIS). Coroners from all jurisdictions contribute to this database and authorised researchers, such as those associated with child death review committees, can access this information. The NCIS provides valuable information on causes of death and clusters that might warrant the attention of policy-makers, but it cannot be used as a primary data source for child death review committees because it represents a limited selection of deaths that occur and because of the long time lag that is possible between the date of death and the Coroners findings being uploaded to the NCIS. The two most useful sources of data for the CDRPC are the records held by NT BDM Registry and the Territory Coroner. The NT BDM Registrar compiles information on all deaths that occur in the Territory and forwards child death information that has been registered with the NT BDM Registry in that month to the Committee secretariat soon after the end of each month. The NT BDM Registry receives information about all child deaths in the NT even where such deaths are also referred for a Coronial investigation. In such cases, the date of death is registered along with the basic demographic information, but the cause of death details are not entered until the Coroners report is handed down which, in some cases, may be in excess of two years after the death. The NT BDM Registrar also keeps a register of stillbirths and supplies this data to the Committee on a monthly basis for the stillbirths registered in that month. Date of Death Reporting There is always some time lag between the actual date of death and the date of the death registration. In the vast majority of cases in the NT, this time lag is relatively minor, mostly less than 30 days. In accordance with other national and state institutions that manage datasets, the Committee has determined that the tables and analyses will focus on the actual date of death rather than the date on which the death was formally registered.
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