4431.0.55.002 - ABS Sources of Disability Information, 2012 - 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/09/2018   
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The ABS has three sources of disability data:

  • The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC);
  • The Short Disability module; and
  • The ‘Need for assistance with core activities’ module used in the Census.

The SDAC is a large survey designed to measure the entire spectrum of disability and gives the most comprehensive measure. It is the recommended source of disability prevalence data in Australia. However, the design of the survey means it may not be useful for looking at disability prevalence amongst small subgroups or for people who fall outside the scope of the survey (like those living in very remote areas of Australia, for example). The SDAC also can’t provide much detail about how people with disabilities are living their lives, such as how they are looking after their health or their experiences with violence.

The ‘short disability module’ is a short set of sixteen questions designed to measure the frequency of disability. It is included on a range of social surveys run by the ABS to identify people with disabilities, including the General Social Survey, the Personal Safety Survey, the National Health Survey and the Survey of Income and Housing. The short module is not as effective as the SDAC in identifying disability as it over estimates the number of people with less severe forms of disabilities. The module provides useful information about the characteristics of people with disabilities relative to those without, but is not recommended for use in measuring disability prevalence.

The ‘need for assistance with core activities’ questions on the Census aim only to identify people with more severe forms of disabilities that require personal support. While the group identified through the questions is limited, this data can be used to look at the prevalence of more severe impairments amongst people in smaller geographic regions or in small populations groups better than the SDAC can.