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Australian injury deaths too high

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Australian outback in hot sunshine

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a new report today highlighting trends in injury deaths for the period 1999-2015 across the Australian population. Of particular concern is the alarming rate of injury deaths to Indigenous Australian which are nearly twice as high as non-Indigenous Australians.

The report also shows that the 2 main causes of injury deaths across the broader Australian population in 2014–15 were Unintentional falls (37%; 4,718 deaths) and Suicide (23%, 2,926 deaths).  Almost 95% (4,465) of fall-related injury deaths occurred at ages 65 and older. Alarmingly, there were 3.2 times as many male suicides (2,226) as female (700).

Focusing on trends in deaths due to injury and poisoning that occurred over the period 1999–00 to 2014–15. The age-standardised rate of injury deaths decreased from 55.4 to 47.2 deaths per 100,000 between 1999–00 and 2004–05 and changed little has changed after that period.

Trends in injury deaths of Indigenous Australians

Age-standardised injury death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fluctuated, but did not change significantly over the period from 2001–02 to 2014–15. Rates declined for transport injury and rose for cases involving pharmaceuticals.

Rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were generally at least twice as high as rates for non-Indigenous Australians over this period.

Male suicide trends alarming

Male suicide particularly in mining has been an emerging issue across Australia. Back in 2015 the Queensland Mining & Energy Bulletin and the Western Australian Government raised awareness of  the need to protect FIFO workers against the risks of suicide. The nature of work at remote sites and fluctuating rosters may have markedly increased fatality rates. Long hours, shift work and job insecurity and time away from family are known stressors.

Mining industry help programs available

Mates in Mining (MIM) program was established to reduce the incidence of male suicide amongst mineworkers. The simple idea underpinning the MIM program is “suicide is everyone’s business”. It’s about mates helping mates.

MIM provides suicide prevention programs through community development on sites, starting with general awareness training followed by the “Connector” model where workers on site can volunteer to help someone in crisis by connecting them to professional help. A further program, ASIST, equips workers with additional skills to help fellow workers – in a similar way to a site first aid officer.

Mates in Mining has also established a national helpline on 1300 642 111. They suggest that if you have a mate in trouble, you offer to do this together. You can also connect with them via Facebook

The findings of the report are here. Trends in injury deaths 1999–00 to 2014–15

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