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Disability statistics

Australians with disability

The 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) (ABS 4430.0 2015) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics contains a number of interesting statistics about people with disability in Australian including:

  • 4.3 million Australians are estimated to have disability or 18.3% of the population. The proportion is slightly lower than the 2012 SDAC results.
  • 18.3% of the Queensland population or just less than 1 in every 5 Queenslanders have a disability.
  • An estimated 261,300 Queenslanders of all ages have a profound or severe disability. People with a profound or severe disability require assistance in everyday activities, including core activities such as self-care, mobility and communication.
  • Queenslanders with disability by age group:
    • 0 to 4 years—3.4%
    • 5 to 14 years—10.4%
    • 15 to 24 years—7.4%
    • 25 to 34 years—9.6%
    • 35 to 44 years—12.1%
    • 45 to 54 years—17.0%
    • 55 to 59 years—24.3%
    • 60 to 64 years—31.9%
    • 65 to 69 years—36.6%
    • 70 to 74 years—47.6%
    • 75 to 79 years—50.9%
    • 80 to 84 years—63.5%
    • 85 to 89 years—74.1%
    • 90 and over—85.8%

Carers and support

According to the 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) (ABS 4430.0 2015) by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are:

  • In Australia, an estimated 2.7 million carers helping people with disability, or the aged.
  • About 855,900 are primary carers—offering the majority of informal help to people with disability, or the aged.
  • Over two thirds of primary carers (68.1%) are women.
  • People with disability in Australia needing care, services and assistance in the following ways:
    • 22.9% needed assistance with mobility
    • 15.3% needed assistance with self-care
    • 29.3% needed assistance with health care
    • 37.5% of Australians aged 65 and over did not need any help performing daily activities. Older Australians who did require help commonly asked for support maintaining a home or property, household chores, mobility assistance and health care.
  • About 474,300 Queenslanders—or 10.2% of the state’s population were carers.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability

The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: 2015 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. The health and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2015. Cat. no. IHW 147. Canberra: AIHW) indicates that in 2012-13:

  • Approximately 36% of Indigenous Australians had some form of disability.
  • About 6.4% of the Indigenous population had a severe or profound disability – approximately 18% of Indigenous people with disability.
  • Indigenous Australians were twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to have severe or profound disability.
  • The most common disability type among Indigenous people with severe or profound disability were:
    • Physical disability (70% of those with severe or profound disability)
    • Sight, hearing or speech-related disabilities (53%)
    • Psychological disabilities (34.7%)
    • Intellectual disabilities (33.7%).
  • The report also indicates that in 2012-13, the rate of severe or profound disability amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was:
    • Highest amongst those in the older age groups reaching 14.4% in the 65 years and over age group
    • Significantly higher in all age groups than for all Australians in all age groups except those aged under 15 years.

More information

The Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare can provide further statistics on disability in Australia.

Disability and work statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released an article about Disability and work, which shows that over 1 million Australians with disability are working in paid employment, making up 10% of the national workforce. A podcast and information about related topics—including disability groups, mental illness, young people with a disability, income support, international comparisons, and barriers and incentives to work—are also available.

Mental health services

Information about mental health services, as well as resources—such as medications and staff—that support the delivery of mental health services is available in the report Mental Health Services: in brief 2011 from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The AIHW also has a website—Mental Health Services in Australia—with detailed statistics, data and information.

Fast fact

Depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance were the 3 mental health issues most often managed by GPs in 2009-10.

Diabetes and mental health

Did you know that diabetes is associated with poor mental health and wellbeing? An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Diabetes and poor mental health and wellbeing: an exploratory analysis, shows a significantly higher proportion of adults with diabetes have medium, high or very high levels of psychological distress.

A focus on youth

Disability and mental health statistics for young Australians are available in Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011, a report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated:
27 March 2018
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