The lifespan of Australians living in capital cities varies by 30 years depending on the suburb a person lives in. In regional Australia, the difference is more than 41 years, according to data released by the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) at Torrens University.
The median age of death
Suburb comparisons reveal the significant disparities in the median age of death within each of our capital cities (being the midpoint of all ages of death reported during a period)1. For example, in Sydney’s Gordon - Killara/ Pymble, a person’s lifespan is 88 years, while in Homebush Bay - Silverwater – a similar distance from the CBD – it is 20 years less, at 68 years. In Melbourne’s eastern suburbs of Camberwell and Surrey Hills, a person’s lifespan is 88 years, while in the western suburbs of Derrimut and Deer Park – a similar distance from the CBD – it is 17 years less, at 71 years. While in Brisbane, in North Lakes - Mango Hill, a person’s lifespan is 84 years, while in Springfield Lakes – a similar distance from the CBD – it is 27 years less, at 57 years.
PHIDU’s latest data also reveal that Australian women live longer on average compared to their male counterparts. The lifespan of females living in our capital cities and in regional Australia is six years longer than that of males.
|Median age at death – Capital cities||Median age at death – Regional Australia|
|Highest median age||Lowest median age||Highest median age||Lowest median age|
|Ashburton (VIC)– 89 years||Melbourne (CBD) – 59 years2||Yackandandah (NSW) – 86.5 years||Newman (WA) – 45 years|
|Unley - Parkside (SA) – 89 years||Forrestdale - Harrisdale - Piara Waters (WA) – 62 years||Grovedale (Vic); Mayfield - Warabrook/ Waratah - North Lambton (NSW); Clear Island Waters/ Merrimac (Qld); Nuriootpa/ Tanunda (SA) – 86 years||APY Lands (SA) – 53 years|
|Castle Hill - East/ Cherrybrook/ Glenhaven (NSW) – 88 years||Driver/ Gray/ Moulden/ Woodroffe (NT) – 62 years||Alice Springs - Remote (NT) – 54 years|
Potential years of life lost
The PHIDU figures also reveal the number of potential years of life lost due to premature death, compared with the national average (i.e. death before the age of 75).1
|Potential years of life lost – Capital cities||Potential years of life lost – Regional Australia|
|% below the average||% above the average||% below the average||% above the average|
|Molonglo (ACT) – 82%||Mornington - Warrane (TAS) – 124%||Ashburton (WA) – 51%||Elsey/ Gulf/ Victoria River (NT) – 316%|
|Aldgate - Stirling/Uraidla - Summertown (SA) – 52%||Bridgewater - Gagebrook (TAS) – 121%||Naracoorte Region (SA) – 46%||APY Lands (SA) – 349%|
|City Beach/ Floreat (WA) – 55%||Driver/ Gray/ Moulden/ Woodroffe (NT) – 119%||Lennox Head - Skennars Head (NSW); Highfields (QLD) – 44%||Barkly/ Tennant Creek (NT) – 307%|
Factors influencing Australian's lifespan
In releasing the data, Professor John Glover from PHIDU highlighted that Population Health Areas are not all the same, with various factors influencing residents’ lifespan. In other words, there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when analysing the data.
“Variations in the median age at death between suburbs are impacted by many factors including socioeconomic disadvantage, as influenced by unemployment, education, housing and income. Events like road traffic accidents among young people lower the median age, and the location of residential aged care facilities raise the median age.”
“However, the strong influence of socioeconomic disadvantage is clearly evident in the pattern of potential years of life lost across our capital cities,” Professor Glover said.
“Regardless of variations between areas, I expect the data will place those areas with lower lifespans under the spotlight, and hope that social and health policymakers, agencies and providers will be informed by these data, investigate the causes and further consider the needs of people in these areas,” Professor Glover said.
1 median age of death and potential years of life lost due to premature death are for the period from 2014 to 2018.
2 median age of death and potential years of life lost in city/inner city areas are frequently impacted by higher rates of homelessness and of people living in sheltered accommodation.