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Using this measure, people with disability are those who report a lot of difficulty or cannot do at all in at least one of these domains. This group represents those who are at greater risk than the general population of experiencing restrictions or limitations in social and economic participation. The restriction or limitation may or may not have been alleviated by the use of assistive devices or by living in a supportive environment.
Measurement of disability in SDAC
Disability data for Australia is available from many different sources, such as population surveys, censuses and administrative collections. The ABS SDAC is the principal source of Australia’s disability prevalence rates and has released this information since 1981. This large specialist survey provides a comprehensive overview of disability, ageing and carers in Australia. It produces prevalence rates for the different severity levels of disability as well as information about the underlying conditions and causes of disability. The 2015 SDAC First Results show that 18.3% of all Australians reported having disability.
In the SDAC, up to 150 questions are used to establish if a person is restricted by disability and is in need of assistance. A person has a disability if they report they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities. There are many aspects of disability identified by SDAC including loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses), social or behavioural difficulties causing restriction, chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort causing restriction and difficulty learning or understanding.
Comparison of survey methodology
In addition to the different ways the SDS and the SDAC identify disability, there are also differences in the survey methodology. The main differences are the age, scope, respondent and interview method. Further information can be found in the Explanatory Notes (see Table 1.1) which also outline the differences in the application of the WG Short Set in the SDS compared to the standard WG approach (see Table 1.2).
Key results from the SDS
The following key results from the 2016 SDS refer to people living in households, aged 18 years and over.
In 2016, 6.7% of Australian adults reported considerable difficulty with at least one of six domains of activity; that is, either a lot of difficulty or cannot do at all. Using the SDS measure, these Australians can be considered to have disability and be at greater risk than the general population of experiencing limited or restricted participation in society.
Using the SDS measure, the following people are considered to have disability:
The 2016 SDS also provides information about the difficulties Australians experienced in the six domains of activity. The WG on Disability Statistics identified that they form the building blocks for more complex activities and without the necessary assistance, can lead to restrictions in participation. Table 1 shows the proportions of Australians with disability across these six domains based on the application of the WG Short Set measure i.e. those who reported a lot of difficulty or cannot do at all.
(b) Components may not add to the total as persons may have had multiple responses.
Source: Supplementary Disability Survey, 2016
Recommendations for using the SDS data
Results from the SDS are different from other ABS disability measures, such as those in the SDAC and the Census of Population and Housing, and should not be compared. For more information about interpreting the results, see the Explanatory Notes.
When using the SDS results, it is important to consider the following:
Further investigations are taking place to identify the similarities and differences in the people identified with disability in the 2016 SDS and 2015 SDAC collections. This analytical work will be released by the ABS in early 2017.
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