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4250.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Education and Training: Social Inclusion, 2009  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/08/2011  First Issue
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DISABILITY AND MENTAL HEALTH

People who have a mental illness or disability are considered to be at a high risk of becoming socially disadvantaged as they are vulnerable to isolation and disengagement from society (South Australian Social Inclusion Board, 2009, p.4). This section examines the education, work and training outcomes of people who have a disability or long-term health condition, with a particular focus on people identified as having a mental illness or profound/severe core activity limitation. Disability or long-term health condition is defined as a limitation, restriction, impairment, disease or disorder, that has lasted, or is expected to last for six months or more, and restricts everyday activities (ABS, 2011b).

According to the ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training, around one in three 15-64 year olds (33%) had a disability or long-term health condition, comprising 4% who had a severe or profound core activity limitation, 12% who had some other form of activity limitation/restriction and 17% who had no specific restriction [1]. Irrespective of level of restriction, 6% of people aged 15-64 years had a mental health condition [2].


LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY [3]

Disability can impact on people's capacity to participate in the economy and engage in the community because of certain activity limitations or impairments (ABS, 2006). Education may help alleviate these disadvantages. Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with increased employment opportunities, income, and overall health and well-being, whereas low levels of attainment are correlated with greater health risk behaviours (such as obesity, smoking and high alcohol consumption) and more limited employment prospects (ABS, 2008a; ABS 2010b). Level of current study, especially among young people, is also important because, while study may not yet be complete, a person's level of study provides an indication of his or her future educational profile and, therefore, their likely employment opportunities. (See the section on socioeconomic status for further discussion about the use of attainment and current study categories).

People who have a disability or long-term health condition are more likely than those without such conditions to have lower levels of educational attainment and participation. Among 20-24 year olds, 75% of people with a disability or long-term health condition had attained Year 12 or were studying towards a qualification at or above Certificate III compared with 87% of people with no disability. In other words, people with a disability were almost twice as likely as people without a disability to finish education prior to Year 12. A similar pattern was observed for people aged 25-64 years.

PEOPLE AGED 20-24 YEARS, LEVEL OF HIGHEST EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT/CURRENT STUDY BY DISABILITY STATUS - 2009
Graph showing level of highest educational attainment/current study by disability status for people aged 20-24 years - 2009
(a) Includes ‘Certificate III/IV not further defined’.
(b) Includes a small proportion of people studying towards qualifications below Certificate III.
(c) Includes a small proportion of people studying towards qualifications below Certificate III, as well
as those with ‘Other education’, ‘Level not determined’ and ‘No educational attainment/attendance’.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


Young people appear to have been studying beyond Year 12 more so than older generations, regardless of whether a disability is present or not. Even so, people with mental or nervous conditions were particularly disadvantaged when compared with other groups. Among 20-24 year olds, people with mental or nervous conditions were more likely than people with other disabilities or long-term health conditions to have left school before Year 12 and not be studying towards a qualification at or above Certificate III (38% compared with 25%). A similar pattern was observed for 25-64 year olds (44% compared with 39%).

PEOPLE AGED 20-64 YEARS WITH BELOW YEAR 12 ATTAINMENT (a), TYPE OF DISABILITY/LONG-TERM HEALTH CONDITION - 2009
Graph showing people aged 20-64 years with below Year 12 attainment by type of disability/long-term health condition - 2009
(a) Includes a small proportion of people studying towards qualifications below Certificate III,
as well as those with ‘Other education’, ‘Level not determined’ and ‘No educational attainment/attendance’.
(b) Includes ‘Any mental illness for which help or supervision is required’ and ‘A nervous or emotional condition’.
(c) Includes all other types of condition or restriction.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


Likewise, people with severe or profound activity limitations were disadvantaged compared with those with other degrees of restriction. Among people aged 20-24 years, those with severe to profound core activity limitations were about twice as likely as were people with other limitations or restrictions to have attained below Year 12 and not to be participating in further education (51% compared with 24%). Among people aged 25-64 years, people with severe to profound limitations were again more likely than those with other degrees of restriction to have attained below Year 12 and not to be participating in further education, but the difference was not as great (53% compared with 40%). They were also less likely to have attained or be studying towards a qualification at the Certificate III to Advanced Diploma level (26% compared with 31%) or to have attained or be studying towards a qualification at or above Bachelor level (12% compared with 18%) [4].


ENGAGEMENT IN WORK AND STUDY

Participation in post-compulsory education and employment is important for maintaining a socially inclusive society, especially when engagement in work and/or study is on a full-time basis (ABS, 2005). In 2009, 84% of people aged 15-24 years without a disability or long-term health condition were fully engaged in work or study compared with 71% of people of the same age with a disability or long-term health condition.

People aged 15-24 years who had a disability or long-term health condition were less likely to be studying full time than were people without a disability or long-term health condition (43% compared with 56%). By contrast, the rate of full-time employment was similar in both groups (around 29%).

Among 25-64 year olds, people with a disability were less likely to be working full time than those without a disability or long-term health condition (45% compared with 62%). Regardless of disability status, participation in full-time study among this older age group was low (around 2%).

Among both age groups, having a mental or nervous condition was shown to further decrease the chances of working full time to about half that of people with other types of disability or long-term health condition (15% compared with 31% for 15-24 year olds; 22% compared with 45% for 25-64 year olds). Likewise, compared with people with other limitations or restrictions, people with severe to profound limitations were much less likely to be participating in full-time work as were people with other limitations or restrictions (13% compared with 25% for 15-24 year olds; 20% compared with 34% for 25-64 year olds).

PEOPLE AGED 15-24 YEARS, ENGAGEMENT IN WORK AND STUDY BY TYPE OF DISABILITY/LONG-TERM HEALTH CONDITION - 2009
Graph showing engagement in work and study by type of disability/long-term health condition for people aged 15-24 years - 2009
(a) Includes ‘Any mental illness for which help or supervision is required’ and ‘A nervous or emotional condition’.
(b) Includes all other types of condition or restriction.
(c) Includes those who are engaged in both full-time study and full-time work and those engaged in a mix of part-time study and part-time work.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


BARRIERS TO FORMAL LEARNING

In order to assess why certain people might be excluded from education, it is important to assess their perceived barriers to learning. Among 15-24 year olds, people with a disability or long-term health condition were almost twice as likely to report a barrier to learning as were people with no disability (16% compared with 27%).

Among 25-64 year olds, there was little difference in the reporting of barriers between disability status (whether the respondent identified as having a disability) or type (specific condition or restriction). There was, however, a difference in terms of level of restriction, in that those with severe or profound core activity limitations were less likely to report barriers to learning than were those with other limitations or restrictions (17% compared with 24%). This suggests that while, on average, people with disabilities may have relatively low rates of educational attainment or participation, people with less severe limitations may have been more inclined to continue their education than were people with more severe limitations but felt unable to do so.

PEOPLE AGED 15-64 YEARS, INCIDENCE OF REPORTED BARRIERS TO FORMAL LEARNING BY TYPE OF DISABILITY/LONG-TERM HEALTH CONDITION - 2009
Graph showing incidence of reported barriers to formal learning by type of disability/long-term health condition for people aged 15-64 years - 2009
(a) Includes ‘Any mental illness for which help or supervision is required’ and 'A nervous or emotional condition’.
(b) Includes all other types of conditions or restrictions.
Source: ABS 2009 Survey of Education and Training


Of all reported barriers to learning, the types of barriers reported most often tended to be lack of time, finances and too much work. In other words, while someone may have reported having a disability, they did not necessarily view their health or disability status as much of a barrier to further education as their lack of time or finances. That said, people with mental or nervous conditions were more than twice as likely to report their own ill-health or disability as a barrier to learning as were people who had other long-term health conditions (7% compared with 3% for 15-24 year olds and 9% compared with 4% for 25-64 year olds).


PARTICIPATION IN NON-FORMAL LEARNING

Non-formal learning activities, such as work related training, are a key to promoting life-long learning, as well as the development and maintenance of knowledge and skills (ABS, 2008b). In 2009, there were similar levels of participation in non-formal learning activities among young people with a disability or long-term health condition overall (27%), a mental health condition (24%), a severe to profound core activity limitation (22%), or no disability or long-term health condition at all (24%).

Among people aged 25-64 years, those with a disability or long-term health condition were less likely than those without a disability or long-term health condition to have participated in non-formal learning (26% compared with 30%). Rates of participation were lower again for people of this age with a mental health condition (18%) or profound or severe core activity limitation (16%). This gradient largely reflected lower levels of employment (and therefore opportunities for work related training) among the disability groups. Indeed, the proportion of employed people with a disability or long-term health condition who had participated in work related training in the previous 12 months (25%) was the same as that for employed people without a disability or long-term health condition. Participation appeared slightly lower for people with mental health conditions (22%) and people with severe or profound core activity limitations (20%), although these differences were not statistically significant.


ENDNOTES

[1] Results from this analysis should be viewed in light of the fact that the ABS has conducted an analysis of the results of a number of surveys which indicates that the short form of the disability module used in this survey appears to be over identifying the population with disabilities. The ABS is in the process of refining the module to rectify it for future survey use. Details of the analysis can be found in ABS Sources of Disability Information, 2003-2008 (cat. no. 4431.0.55.002). (Back to text)

[2] In this article a mental health condition includes people with ‘any mental illness for which help or supervision is required’ or ‘a nervous or emotional condition’, but excludes people with 'long-term effects as result of head injury, stroke, or other brain damage' people with 'difficulty learning or understanding things'. (Back to text)

[3] For further explanation of Level of Highest Educational Attainment, see the decision table in the Explanatory Notes of Education and Training Experience, State and Territory Tables, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 6278.0.55.005). (Back to text)

[4] It is worth noting that some people with mental or nervous conditions may have other disabilities or long-term health conditions. As such, the gap between those with psychological disabilities and those with other types of disabilities only is likely to be understated. (Back to text)

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