Objectives: To quantify Indigenous mortality, compare it with non-Indigenous mortality, and identify causes of excess Indigenous mortality by remoteness in Queensland, 1997–2000.
Design: Cross-sectional survey of all deaths of Queensland residents registered in Australia during the study period.
Main outcome measures: Mortality rates were standardised to the concurrent non-Indigenous population and categorised by age and sex.
Results: Death rates in Indigenous people were higher in remote areas. The difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mortality was also highest in remote areas. The leading causes of deaths were ischaemic heart disease, diabetes mellitus, respiratory diseases, malignant neoplasms, and injury, which accounted for more than 60% of excess deaths.
Conclusions: Despite limitations with Indigenous identification, particularly in urban areas, Indigenous people, compared with the non-Indigenous population, have elevated mortality rates that increase by remoteness. This is in agreement with past work. To the extent that some of the causes of excess mortality can be attributed to lifestyle conditions, the health of Indigenous Australians can be substantially improved.