Source: The Mercury, Wednesday, July 27, 1994, pp.1-2


Tassie top death rate state

New study pinpoints
flu, pneumonia, suicide

BY NICK CLARK 
 
TASMANIA has the 
highest death rate of any 
Australian state and the 
highest suicide rate in all 
the states and territories, 
a major new study has 
found. 
 
   And it seems the weather is 
partly to blame, with the state 
having more than double the 
national average for 
pneumonia and influenza 
deaths. 
 
   The study, by the National 
Centre for Epidemiology and 
Population Health, found the 
Northern Territory had the 
highest death rate between 
1971 and 1992, followed by 
Tasmania and New South Wales.
 
   Western Australia had the 
lowest death rate. 
 
   Average life expectancy for 
men in Tasmania is 73.2 years 
and for women 79.3 years, 
compared with the national 
average of 74.5 and 80.5 
respectively. 
 
   Researcher Dr Shail Jain 
said Tasmanian mortality 
rates had not dropped as 
quickly as those in most other 
states. 
 
   "Tasmania has a low 
socioeconomic index and a 
high average age, which 
contributes to the high 
mortality rate," he said. 
 
   "The state also has high 
numbers of motor and boating 
accidents contributing to a 
considerable IOSB of life 
potential between 0 and 65 
years." 
 
   Professor Terry Dwyer, 
director of the University of 
Tasmania's Menzies Centre 
for Population Health 
Research, said many causes of 
the state's high mortality rate 
were preventable. 
 
   "Tasmania has lagged 
behind the national drop in 
cardio-vascular disease 
although we have made 
progress in areas such as 
infant mortality," he said. 
 
   Professor Dwyer said a high 
rate of smoking contributed 
to relatively high incidences 
of lung cancer and heart 
disease in Tasmania. 
 
   "Since the 1960s our life 
expectancy has not improved 
as much as the rest of the 
nation, but many of the 
causes are identifiable and 
action can be taken," he said. 
 
   Figures in the study show 
Tasmania has high rates of 
death from heart disease 
vehicle accidents, 
pneumonia, influenza and 
chronic obstructive 
pulmonary disease. 
 
   The southern region, 
excluding Greater Hobart, had 
higher death rates than the 
rest of the state. 
 
   Tasmania had the worst 
suicide rate in the survey to 
1992 and the rate has 
worsened in the past two 
years, with 95 deaths in 1993 - 
up from 73 in 1991. 
 
   The suicide rate is about 25 
per 100,000 people, 
compared with the national 
rate of 13.65 per 100,000. 
 
Release of the death rate 
 
Continued Page 2

Tassie top
death rate
state

 
FROM PAGE I 
 
figures coincided yesterday 
with a fresh attack on 
Tasmania's rising road toll. 
 
   RACT chief engineer Doug 
Ling said the state's road toll 
had risen to 35, compared 
with 25 at this time last year. 
 
   He said the tragic death rate 
this year was in stark contrast 
to police and government 
claims that speed cameras 
would lower the toll. 
 
   Instead of quick-fix 
solutions the state needed a 
proper co-ordinated strategy 
but the Government had still 
not released a report due for 
completion last July. 
 
   Transport and Works 
Minister Ian Braid said short- 
term variations in the road 
toll were misleading. 
 
   He said there were 63 
fatalities for the 12 months 
from July 1992 to June 1993, 
compared with 64 for the 12 
months between July 1993 
and June this year. l 
 
   Mr Braid said the 
Government had endorsed a 
road safety strategy developed 
by his department and it 
would be released next month. 
 
   He had just written to the 
RACT inviting it to be 
represented on the Road 
Safety Advisory Council. 
 
   Police Minister Frank 
Madill said although the road 
toll was up on last year the 
1993 toll was the lowest on 
record. 
 
   Labor transport spokesman 
Michael Aird said the 
Government's road safety 
record stood condemned by 
the RACT's comments.


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