4443.1 - Disability, New South Wales, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/09/2001   
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  • Glossary

The definition and categories of disability used in the 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers


A person has a disability if he/she has one of the following, that has lasted or is likely to last for
6 months or more:

    Loss of sight (not corrected by glasses);
    Loss of hearing (with difficulty communicating or use of aids);
    Loss of speech;
    Chronic or recurring pain that restricts everyday

    Breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities;
    Blackouts, fits or loss of consciousness;
    Difficulty learning or understanding;
    Incomplete use of arms or fingers;
    Difficulty gripping;
    Incomplete use of feet or legs;
    A nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities;
    Restriction in physical activities or physical work;
    Disfigurement or deformity;
    Needing help or supervision because of a mental illness or condition;
    Head injury, stroke or other brain damage, with
    long-term effects that restrict everyday activities;

    Treatment for any other long-term condition, and still restricted in everyday activities; or
    Any other long-term condition that restricts everyday activities.

Specific restrictions are:
    Core activity restrictions; and/or
    Schooling or employment restrictions.

Core activities are:
    Self care - bathing or showering, dressing, eating, using the toilet and managing incontinence.
    Mobility - moving around at home and away from home, getting into or out of a bed or chair; and using public transport;
    Communication - understanding and being understood by others: strangers, family and friends.
    Core activity restriction may be: Profound - unable to perform a core activity, or always needing assistance;
    Severe - sometimes needing assistance to perform a core activity;
    Moderate - not needing assistance, but having difficulty performing a core activity; and
    Mild - having no difficulty performing a core activity, but using aids or equipment because of disability.

Age standardised disability rate

An age standardised rate is calculated to remove the effects of different age structures when comparing populations between States and Territories, or over time.

Age of onset

Refers to the age at which a person first found out about their condition, or at which their accident occurred.

Cared accommodation

Hospitals, homes for the aged such as nursing homes and aged care hostels, cared components of retirement villages and other 'homes', such as children's homes.


A person of any age who provides any informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to persons with disabilities or long-term conditions, or persons who are elderly (i.e. aged 60 years or over). The assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months.

Disability rate

The proportion of people with a disability, in any given population or sub-population (e.g. age group).


Persons aged 15 years or over who worked for one hour or more during the reference week for pay, profit, commission, payment-in-kind or without pay in a family business, or who had a job but were not at work.

Employment restriction

An employment restriction is determined for persons with one or more disabilities aged 15-64 years and living in households if, because of their disability, they:
  • are permanently unable to work;
  • are restricted in the type of work they can/could do;
  • need/would need at least one day a week off work on average;
  • are restricted in the number of hours they can/could work;
  • require/would require an employer to provide special equipment, modify the work environment or make special arrangements;
  • need/would need to be given ongoing assistance or supervision;
  • would find it difficult to change jobs or get a better job.

Full-time/part-time status

Full-time work is defined as 35 hours or more per week.

Long-term health condition

A disease or disorder which has lasted or is likely to last for at least six months; or a disease, disorder or event (e.g. stroke, poisoning, accident etc.) which produces an impairment or restriction which has lasted or is likely to last for at least six months. Long-term conditions have been coded to a classification based on the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases, Version 10 (ICD-10).

Main condition

A long-term condition identified by a person as the condition causing the most problems. Where only one long-term condition is reported, this is recorded as the main condition.

Mainly English speaking countries

In this publication, this category is comprised of: Canada; Republic of Ireland; New Zealand; South Africa; the United Kingdom; and the United States of America. All other overseas born persons were grouped in the category 'Mainly non-English speaking' countries.

Median weekly cash income

The amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, one having incomes above the median and the other having incomes below it.

Need for assistance

A person with one or more disabilities, or aged 60 years or over, is identified as having a need for assistance with an activity if, because of their disability or older age, they need help or supervision with at least one of the specified tasks constituting that activity. Need is not identified if the help or supervision is required because the person has not learned, or has not been accustomed to performing the activity. The person is considered to need assistance whether or not assistance is actually received.

Non-private dwelling

Cared accommodation, together with other non-private dwellings.

Open employment service

Services which provide employment assistance to people with a disability in obtaining and/or retaining paid employment.

Other carer

A person who provides informal assistance to someone with a disability, but who is not the main (or primary) source of assistance.

Other non-private dwelling

Non-private dwellings other than cared accommodation are hostels for the homeless, hotels, motels, educational and religious institutions, construction camps, short-stay caravan parks, youth camps and camping grounds and self care units in a retirement village which has cared accommodation on-site.

Participation rate

The participation rate for any group is the number of persons in the labour force (i.e. employed persons plus unemployed persons) expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over in the same group. In this publication, the population is persons aged 15-64 years.

Primary carer

A person of any age who provides the most informal assistance, in terms of help or supervision, to a person with one or more disabilities. The assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months and be provided for one or more of the core activities (communication, mobility and self care).

Principal source of cash income

Refers to that source from which the greatest amount of cash income is received.

Private dwellings

Houses, flats, home units, garages, tents and other structures used as private places of residence. Disability group homes (with fewer than six people) are also considered to be private dwellings.

Receipt of assistance

Receipt of assistance is applicable to persons with one or more disabilities, or aged 60 years and over, who needed help or supervision with at least one of the specified tasks comprising an activity. The source of assistance may be informal or formal, but does not include assistance from the use of aids.


A person has a restriction if he/she has difficulty doing a particular activity, needs assistance from another person or uses an aid.

Schooling restriction

A schooling restriction is determined for persons aged 5-20 years who have one or more disabilities if, because of having a disability, they:
  • are unable to attend school;
  • attend a special school;
  • attend special classes at an ordinary school;
  • need at least one day a week off school on average;
  • have difficulty at school.

Special school

Schools for students with specific needs. In these schools students are not assigned to a year of schooling but are reported according to their type of specific needs. Students with multiple disabilities are reported according to their main disability. Most special schools have permanent enrolments and include schools for students with a disability and students in juvenile justice centres. They also include schools without permanent enrolments such as diagnostic, remedial, deliberative and hospital schools where the children are temporarily enrolled but are counted in their own school.

Support class

Support classes exist within primary, secondary and central schools. Students with specific needs are enrolled in support classes in the same manner as those in special schools. Support classes for students of mixed abilities are classified according to the predominant type of specific need present in the class.

Supported employment service

Services which provides employment assistance for people with a disability the service employs.

Total cash income

Gross current usual (weekly equivalent) cash receipts that are of a regular and recurring nature, and accrue to individual household members at annual or more frequent intervals, from employment, own business, the lending of assets and transfers from government, private organisations and other households. Gross income is the sum of the income from all sources before income tax or Medicare levy are deducted.


Persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the reference period, but who had actively looked for work and were available to start work.

Working age

In the 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, people of working age were defined as those in the 15-64 year age group.