AIHW Board AIHW senior staff Annual report Capability statement Collaboration Customer care charter FOI - freedom of information Indexed list of files Conferences & events Organisation chart Presentations Privacy of data Public consultation Strategic Directions 2011-2014 Tenders
By category Ageing, disability & carers Families & children Hospitals Housing & homelessness Indigenous Australians Population groups Risk factors, diseases & death Services, workforce & spending
By subjectAdoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases
Chronic kidney disease Chronic respiratory conditions Deaths Dementia Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition Health indicators Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Injury Life expectancy
Male health Mental health Mothers & babies National health priority areas Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Data Publications Contact AIHW
Publications CatalogueOrdering publicationsForthcoming publicationsOnline reportsRate our publication effectivenessSubscribe to release notices
By subject Adoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases Chronic kidney disease
Chronic respiratory conditions Corporate publications Data linkage Data standards Deaths Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition General practice Health indicators Health priority areas Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Indigenous housing
Injury Life expectancy Male health Mental health Mothers & babies Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Subjects Data Contact AIHW
About AIHW data METeOR - metadata online registry Data by subject Catalogue of holdings of AIHW data Data integration Data standards Privacy of data
By subject Aged care Alcohol and other drugs Alcohol data sources Body weight data sources Cancer Children's headline indicators
Chronic disease indicators Deaths Disability Expenditure FHBH - Fixing houses for better health General practice (GP) data Hospitals Height and weight data sources
Indigenous Australians International collaboration Medical indemnity Mental health National indicator catalogue National core maternity indicators Risk factors statistics Tobacco data sources Workforce
In other sections Subjects Publications Contact AIHW
AACR ACFADD AHSAC AIHW Board AIHW Ethics Committee CKDMAC AODTS NMDS WG CMAG CSDWG CVDMAC HEAC HHIMG
IGIHM JJ RIG MHISS MyHospitals NAGATSIHID NCIAG NCSIMG NDDWG NDIMG NHISSC NIAG NIRAPIMG NMDD
NMDS NOPSAD NPDDC NPHEP NPHIC PCDWG PDWG PHIDG PHIG REDWG Workforce committees YIAG
Education worksheets What's in the pipeline Subscribe to education notices Other educational links
Worksheets by subject All Latest Ageing Australia's health Australia's welfare Carers
Children & youth Disability Disease Drugs
Health Health prevention Indigenous Australians Injury
In other sections Subjects Data Publications Contact AIHW
Job vacancies How to apply for a position at the AIHW Conditions of employment Benefits of working for the AIHW Indigenous temporary employment register Temporary employment register Occupational Training Program Contact the People Unit Subscribe to employment notices Graduates
AIHW Access magazine Conferences & events Media releases Subscribe to release notices Media FAQ Media contacts
You are here:
This page provides an introduction to disability and disability services in the Australian population, focusing on people with a disability that manifests before the age of 65 years.
On this page
Disability is increasingly seen as something that affects most people in the population, to varying degrees and at different stages of their lives. Disability can be measured along a continuum and estimates of its prevalence vary with the particular definition used. The experience of disability is shaped by environmental factors.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) recognises that the components of functioning and disability (body functions and structures, activities and participation) reflect an interaction between health conditions and the person's environment. This important conceptual framework underpins much Australian data.
Estimates of the prevalence of disability are based on the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC).
According to the SDAC, in 2003:
The age-standardised rates of severe disabilities have not changed significantly in over 20 years. However, due to population growth and ageing, the actual number of people with these disabilities is rising.
Data on disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been limited. Recent sources include the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. In 2002, 102,900 (37%) Indigenous Australians aged 15 years or over had disability or a long-term health condition. In general terms, the severe disability rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than double those of other Australians (2.1 to 2.4 times).
People with disability receive care and assistance from a range of sources including:
In 2003, Australians aged less than 65 years who needed help with self-care, mobility or communication received most of the assistance they needed from family and friends. Around 65% received informal assistance only; 26% received both formal and informal assistance; 3% received formal assistance only; and 6% had no provider of assistance.
Around 2.6 million carers in Australia provided unpaid assistance to people with disability or the aged in 2003. The person who provides the most assistance is known as the primary or principal carer. These carers made up around 20% of the 2.6 million carers. The remaining 80% were non-primary carers, sometimes called secondary carers.
Sources of income support include payments and allowances, concession schemes and compensation.
Some of the largest income support programs are:
From 1 January 2009, the National Disability Agreement (NDA) replaced the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) for the provision of disability services in Australia. Services provided under the CSTDA were targeted at people with a need for ongoing support in everyday activities. Information about services provided, service outlets and service users are reported in the Disability Services National Minimum Data Set for 2009-10 onwards. From 1999 to 2008-09 they were reported in the CSTDA National Minimum Data Set.
In 2007-08, services provided under the CSTDA accounted for some $4.8 billion of government expenditure. Almost half this expenditure was used to fund accommodation support services ($2.3 billion; 48%).
Disability support services under the CSTDA were provided to 245,746 people during 2007-08. The most widely accessed service group was community support (used by 42% of service users), followed by employment (37%) and community access (22%). Accommodation support services were accessed by 15% of service users.
The Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) program is a five year agreement between the Australian Government and State and Territory governments. The program was established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 10 February 2006. Funding of up to $122 million from the Australian Government matched by up to $122 million from States and Territories is available.
This program aims to reduce the number of younger people with disability living in residential aged care, and to provide additional support to those who remain in residential aged care.
The AIHW was commissioned to develop a national data set and collection process relating to the YPIRAC program. Information about services provided and the people receiving services under the program during 2007-08 can be found in the YPIRAC 2007-08 MDS report .
The Home and Community Care program (HACC) provides services to frail older people, people with disability and their carers. HACC services aim to increase independence and prevent admission to residential care.
During 2006-07, there were 188,903 HACC clients under the age of 65 years (24% of the total 801,290).
Mainstream services accessed by people with disability include health services, public transport, education and training, employment assistance, and housing and accommodation assistance. However, people with disability may experience difficulty in accessing these services. For example, access to mainstream health services for people with disability is often restricted by issues such as insufficient training of the health workforce, communication difficulties and the misinterpretation of symptoms.
For further discussion, see Australia's welfare 2013.