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4443.1 - Disability, New South Wales, 2001  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/09/2001   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


Introduction

The Introduction discusses issues concerned with defining, classifying and measuring disability. It looks at the way in which the international classifications of disability are used in data sources in this report and the limitations of that usage.


Disability

In 1998 almost one in five people in NSW (1.2 million), or 19% of the population had a disability. There were similar numbers of males and females. Most of these people (88% or 1.1 million) had a specific restriction consisting of a core activity restriction (self care, mobility and/or communication) and/or a schooling or employment restriction.

Disability Population
Image - Disability Population - Breakdown of different disability categories with population sizes

(a) Includes 436,500 persons with core activity restrictions.


Some 38% of people with a core activity restriction had a mild level of restriction associated with their disability. A further 23% had a moderate level, 21% a severe level and 19% a profound level of restriction.
The rate of disability for males and females increased markedly with age. For males, the disability rate rose from 6% for children aged 0-4 years to 80% of people aged 85 years and over. For females, the rate for children aged 0-4 years was 2% increasing to 84% for those aged 85 years and over.

Disability Rates, By Age and Sex - 1998
graph - Disability Rates, By Age and Sex - 1998



There has been a rise in the underlying disability rate in NSW over time, increasing from 16% in 1988 to 19% in 1998.

At 19% the disability rate in NSW was equal to the Australian rate. Across the States and Territories the rate varied from 13% in the Northern Territory to 22% in South Australia and Tasmania. When rates are age standardised, they ranged from 18% in Victoria to 22% in Tasmania.

The NSW regions with the highest rates of disability were the South Eastern (25%), Central West (25%) and Hunter (25%) Statistical Divisions (SD). These compare with 18% in Sydney (SD) and 14% in the Northern SD. Within Sydney the highest rates were 23% in Outer Western Sydney Statistical subdivision (SSD), Inner Western Sydney SSD and Canterbury Bankstown SSD. The lowest rate was 11% in the Eastern Suburbs SSD.

People born overseas in non-English speaking countries had a disability rate of 18% compared with 24% for those born in mainly English speaking countries. This reflects the older age structure of early post World War 11 migrants who were largely from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

For 85% of people with a disability, physical conditions were the cause of their disability. Among this group the most common cause was diseases of the musculoskeletal system which included arthritis. For 15% of people, mental and behavioural disorders were the cause of their disability. For dependent children with a disability, roughly half were more restricted by a physical condition (52%), than a mental or behavioural disorder (48%).

A range of causes were reported by people for the main condition leading to their disability. The most common reason, accounting for a quarter of those with a disability, was 'just came on/due to old age'.

Reasons Reported as Cause of Main Condition - 1998
graph - Reasons Reported as Cause of Main Condition - 1998



Over one third of people living in households needed assistance with property maintenance. Other activities where people with a disability commonly required assistance were health care (26%), transport (25%) and housework (25%).

Assistance was usually received from family and friends (87%) rather than from formal organisations (42%)

Nearly half (48%) of people with a disability assessed their health status as good or very good.


Caring in the community

An estimated 798,300 or about 1 in 8 people were performing a caring role. Of these 1 in 5 (162,200) were primary carers. Women accounted for 57% of all carers and 73% of primary carers.

The Carer Community
image - The Carer Community


The largest number of carers were aged 45-54 years (161,600) while the largest proportion (24%) were aged 55-64 years. Some 52% of primary carers who resided with their main recipient of care were partners and 24% were parents. Primary carers who did not reside with the main recipient of care were usually sons or daughters of that person (64%) or other relatives and friends (31%).

Carers, By Age and Sex - 1998
graph - Carers, By Age and Sex - 1998



About 4 in 10 primary carers and 3 in 10 other carers had a disability. Profound or severe core activity restrictions were reported by 12% (19,800) of primary carers and 7% (42,500) of other carers.

Carer's Disability Status - 1998
graph - Carer's Disability Status - 1998



The most commonly reported reasons for taking on the caring role were family responsibility (48%), the belief that they could provide better care (48%) and/or an emotional obligation (40%) to provide care.

Half of primary carers provided assistance for 20 hours or more per week.

The labour force participation rate for all carers of working age (15-64 years) was 76% for men and 57% for women. For non-carers the rates were higher for both men and women at 84% and 69% respectively.

Almost half of all primary carers had not experienced any change in their financial situation because of their caring role. A reduced income was reported by 20% of primary carers. Extra expenses were reported by 23% and difficulties meeting everyday living expenses by 22% of primary carers.


Living arrangements and housing

In 1998 most people with a disability lived in private dwellings with others. Some 76% lived in a private dwelling with at least one other person and 16% lived alone. A further 6% lived in cared accommodation and 2% lived in other non-private dwellings.

The number of women aged 65 years and over who were living in cared accommodation or living alone was greater than the number of men.

Living Arrangements of Older People(a) - 1998
graph - Living Arrangements of Older People(a) - 1998



Among non-dependent children with a disability who were still living with a parent, 18% were aged 45 years and over.

People with a mental or behavioural disorder were more likely to be living in cared accommodation (17%) than those with a physical condition (4%).

People with a mental or behavioural disorder were more likely to be renting accommodation (28%) or boarding (13%) than people with a physical disorder. They were also less likely to own their own home (19%).

Almost half (48%) of those people with a disability who used accommodation services, used services provided by the State Government. Charitable/religious organisations and other non-government organisations each provided services used by a further quarter of people with a disability.


Employment and income

In 1998, people of working age (15-64 years) with a disability had a lower rate of labour force participation (50%) than those without a disability (80%).

Labour Force Participation Rate - 1998
graph - Labour Force Participation Rate - 1998



In 1998, 313,700 people with a disability of working age (15-64 years) were employed.

For those who received assistance through a Commonwealth Government open employment service outlet, and were in permanent employment, 40% were employed full-time and 43% part-time. However, among those assisted by supported service outlets, 64% were employed full-time and 32% part-time.

Almost 28% of working age people with a disability were permanently unable to work.

The median gross weekly income of people with a disability ($190) was less than half that of people without a disability ($390).

More than half (58%) of people with a disability were reliant on a government pension or benefit as their main source of income.


Education

In NSW, an estimated 80,900 people with a disability aged 5-19 years attended school, accounting for 7% of the school population. Of those with a disability attending school, over three-quarters (61,200) reported a schooling restriction. This meant they attended a special school or class, needed at least one day a week off school, or had difficulty at school.

School Attendance(a) - 1998
graph - School Attendance(a) - 1998



An estimated 22,700 children aged 5-14 years attending school in NSW had an intellectual/developmental disorder. This accounted for one in three or 34% of children with a disability in 1998. The other major long-term condition groups effecting children attending school were hearing/speech loss (17,500 or 26%), asthma (13,600 or 20%) and ADD/ADHD (11,700 or 18%).

In 2000, 4,565 students with a disability were enrolled in special schools and 11,152 were enrolled in support classes in regular schools. A further 22,998 students with a disability were enrolled in regular classes.

In 1998 there were 49,000 students with a disability attending a tertiary institution in NSW, some 9% of all tertiary students.

In 1998 42,500 students with a disability received at least one type of support to enable them to participate in education either at school or another educational institution.

Of those people with a disability who had completed a post-school qualification, 86% reported having completed the qualification before the onset of their disability. Some 14% had completed the qualification after the onset of their disability.


Activities and lifestyle

In 1998, two-thirds of people with a disability aged 5 years and over, living in households, were able to go out as often as they would like. Of the remainder, 33% reported that they did not go out as often as they would like and 1% reported that they did not go out at all.

Nearly half (47%) of the people with a disability who did not go out as often as they liked indicated their own illness or condition as the main reason. Other common reasons included high cost (14%) and lack of desire or having nowhere to go (7%).

Main Reason Did Not Go Out as Often as Would Like(a) - 1998
graph - Main Reason Did Not Go Out as Often as Would Like(a) - 1998



The main activity away from home for almost half of people with a disability was visiting family or friends. One in eight people went to a restaurant or club.

Over three quarters of people with a physical disability had undertaken domestic travel in a 12 month period. The main reasons given for domestic travel were for pleasure/holiday (48%) and for visiting friends and relatives (31%). Around 11% of people with a physical disability had undertaken overseas travel in the same 12 month period.

When travelling, 70% (of those surveyed) required assistance from an attendant, carer or family member with tasks of daily living.

In 1998, 21% of people with a disability aged 5 years and over, living in households, reported using a home computer.


Mobility and transport

In 1998, 806,900 (71%) people with a disability aged 5 years and over had a mobility core activity restriction of whom 238,700 had a profound/severe level of restriction. A profound/severe restriction exists when a person is unable to carry out, or almost always needs assistance with mobility tasks.

One or more mobility aids were used by 150,800 people with a disability in NSW. Mobility aids or equipment were primarily used for moving around places away from home (130,700) or for moving around an individual's residence (101,100).

Around 285,700 (25%) people with a disability needed transport assistance, half of whom always needed assistance. Almost three-quarters (73%) of people with a disability who needed transport assistance were either a passenger (154,600) or driver (54,300) of a private vehicle on their last journey, while 10% (27,200) used public transport and 6% (17,500) walked.

Transport Used on Last Journey(a) - 1998
graph - Transport Used on Last Journey(a) - 1998



Of the 285,700 people with a disability who needed transport assistance, 81% (232,200) received assistance from informal sources only, while 4% (12,200) received assistance from formal sources only. Both formal and informal sources were used by 7% (20,900) of people while the remaining 7% did not receive any transport assistance.

One third (371,000) of all people with a disability in NSW had some form of difficulty using public transport. In 1998, 116,200 people with a disability used public transport for their last journey. Just over one third (40,300) of these trips were to attend work or school/educational activities. A further 26% (29,700) were for shopping, 12% (13,800) were visits to a doctor and 11% (11,100) were visits to relatives or friends.

Reason Public Transport Used(a) - 1998
graph - Reason Public Transport Used(a) - 1998



In 1998, 84% of men and 61% of women with a disability aged 17 years and over held a driver's licence.

The NSW Road and Traffic Authority had issued over 1,000 licences with endorsed conditions requiring vehicle modifications in 1999.

Almost two-thirds (487,000) of people with a disability who held a driver's licence drove on a daily basis. A further 183,500 drove at least once a week (but not daily) and 44,400 drove less frequently than once a week. Some 45,200 people with a disability did not drive at all even though they still had a current licence.

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