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Case Studies

Case Study C2: Transport injury rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

A recent report commissioned by the ATSB, as part of a series of studies of injuries related to land transport, demonstrates the need to improve road transport safety for Indigenous Australians.

The report, Injury of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to transport 1999-2000 to 2003-04, was prepared by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, using data from the National Hospital Morbidity Database and the National Coroners Information System. The report covers the four jurisdictions in which 60 per cent of the Indigenous population of Australia are residents: the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

The report's main focus is on crashes involving land vehicles, which accounted for 99 per cent of transport-related injury to Indigenous people. The evidence shows that rates of both death and injury are significantly higher among Indigenous Australians than among non-Indigenous people.

  • On a population basis, there were 2.6 times more deaths and 30 per cent more serious injury cases from land transport accidents (on-road and off-road) among Indigenous people than among non-Indigenous people.
  • The road traffic death rate of Indigenous people was 2.6 times that of non-Indigenous people, and their rate of non-fatal serious injuries was 60 per cent higher. In all geographic zones, Indigenous people had higher rates of serious injury on public roads than non-Indigenous people.
  • Rates of car occupant deaths and serious injuries among Indigenous people were roughly double those of non-Indigenous people.
  • The pedestrian death rate was seven times higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people, and the rate of serious injury as a pedestrian was almost four times higher.

While Indigenous fatal and serious injury rates were higher than non-Indigenous rates for both males and females, within each group, male rates for deaths and injuries were more than twice the female rates. The report also shows that, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the rates of serious and fatal land transport injuries tended to be lowest for people living in major cities and higher for people living in regional and remote areas.

The report has been provided to the Indigenous Road Safety Working Group, which comprises representatives from the Australian Government, state and territory governments and community organisations, to inform the advice it provides to the National Road Safety Strategy Panel on measures to improve road safety outcomes for Indigenous people.

Age-standardised rates of hospitalisation from road traffic crashes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by place of residence, NT, WA, SA and Qld, 1999-2000 to 2003-04

 Graph of age-standardised rates of hospitalisation from road traffic crashes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, by place of residence, NT, WA, SA and Qld, 1999-2000 to 2003-04

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