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