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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 2014–15, around 333,800 people received disability support services, an increase of 6% since 2010–11 and of 4% since 2013–14.

People may use services from more than one service group. Forty-five 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 (44%) were the most common service groups used. 

Disability support service users by service group, 2014–15

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 2014–15 were male, and 41% were female. 

The average (mean) age of service users was 35.

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

Male Female All service users
Mean age (years)
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
2014–15 32.1 37.9 34.5
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
2014–15 58.9 41.1 100.0

Disability group

In 2014–15, 32% of service users had a physical disability, 29% had an intellectual disability, and 29% had a psychiatric disability. 

Disability group (primary or other significant disability) of disability support service users, 2014–15

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 (66%), activities of independent living (80%) and activities of work, education and community living (85%).

Indigenous service users

Around 19,000 disability support service users, or 6% of all service users in 2014–15, were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. Of Indigenous service users in 2014–15:

  • most were aged under 50 (16,000 or 84% of Indigenous service users), compared with 72% of non-Indigenous service users
  • 60% were male, about the same as non-Indigenous service users (59%)
  • 34% had an intellectual disability, 32% had a physical disability and 27% had a psychiatric disability, similar to non-Indigenous service users (30%, 33% and 30%, respectively)
  • around one-third (33%) were not in the workforce, over half were in the workforce but unemployed (53%) and 14% were employed, compared with 30%, 47% and 23% of non-Indigenous service users, respectively
  • community support was the most commonly used service group (54%, compared with 44% of non-Indigenous service users), followed by employment services (36%, compared with 46% of non-Indigenous service users).

Culturally and linguistically diverse service users

The majority of disability support service users in 2014–15 were born in Australia (86%), 10% were born in a predominantly non-English speaking country and 4% in a predominantly English-speaking country.


In 2014–15, 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 in 2014–15. A further 28% 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