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Australian governments fund a range of disability support services under the National Disability Agreement (NDA) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). These services are intended to improve the lives of people with disability, and their carers, and ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in the community.

Data on the services provided under the NDA are collected in the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set (DS NMDS) .

A snapshot of the latest statistics on disability support service users from the DS NMDS is provided below.

In 2013–14, around 321,500 people received disability support services, an increase of 9% since 2009–10 and of 3% since 2012–13.

People may use services from more than one service group. Forty-four per cent of people who used disability support services used community support services to help them live in a non-institutional setting. This and employment services (41%) were the most common service groups used. 

Horizontal bar chart showing service group (respite, accomodation support, community access, employment, community support) on the y axis; per cent (0 to 50) on the x axis.  

Age and sex of disability support service users

More than half (59%) of all service users in 2013–14 were male, and 41% were female. 

The average (mean) age of service users was 34.

The overall sex and age distribution of service users has remained relatively steady over time.

Male Female All service users
Mean age (years)
2009–10 31.9 37.4 34.1
2010–11 31.9 37.6 34.2
2011–12 31.6 37.2 33.9
2012–13 31.3 37.0 33.6
2013–14 31.4 37.2 33.7
2009–10 59.3 40.7 100.0
2010–11 59.3 40.7 100.0
2011–12 59.1 40.9 100.0
2012–13 59.1 40.9 100.0
2013–14 59.2 40.8 100.0

Disability group

Intellectual disability is the most common disability among disability support service users, at around one-third (31%) of all services users in 2013–14. 

Disability group (primary or other significant disability) of disability support service users, 2013–14 (per cent)

Horizontal bar chart showing per cent ( 0 to 40 on the x axis; disability group on the y axis.

Most service users required at least some assistance with the activities of daily living (68%), activities of independent living (82%) and activities of work, education and community living (86%).

Indigenous service users

Around 18,000 disability support service users, or 6% of all service users in 2013–14, were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. Of Indigenous service users in 2013–14:

  • most were aged under 50 15,100 or 84% of Indigenous service users), compared with 73% of non-Indigenous service users
  • 60% were male, about the same as non-Indigenous service users (59%)
  • 35% had an intellectual disability, 31% had a physical disability and 25% had a psychiatric disability, similar to non-Indigenous service users (31%, 31% and 28%, respectively)
  • around one-third (34%) were not in the workforce, over half were in the workforce but unemployed (53%) and 13% were employed, compared with 32%, 48% and 21% of non-Indigenous service users, respectively
  • community support was the most commonly used service group (56%, compared with 44% of non-Indigenous service users), followed by employment services (33%, compared with 43% of non-Indigenous service users).

Culturally and linguistically diverse service users

The majority of disability support service users were born in Australia (87%), 9% were born in a predominantly non-English speaking country and 4% in a predominantly English-speaking country.


The majority of service users lived in a major city (66%). Twenty-three per cent lived in an inner regional area, 9% lived in an outer regional area, and 2% lived in a remote or very remote area.

Forty per cent of Indigenous service users lived in a major city, lower than the 68% of non-Indigenous service users. A further 27% lived in an inner regional area, 20% lived in an outer regional area, and 13% lived in a remote or very remote area, and did so in higher proportions than non-Indigenous service users (23%, 9%, and 1% respectively).

Further information