4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/12/2010   
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For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


The 2009 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) collects information in order to:

  • measure the prevalence of disability in Australia
  • measure the need for support of older people and those with a disability
  • estimate the number of and provide information about people who provide care to older people and people with disabilities
  • provide a demographic and socio-economic profile of people with disabilities, older people and carers compared with the general population.

Detailed information on the following topics was collected:
  • General demographic information
  • Disability identification
  • Carer of a usual resident
  • Carer of non-usual resident
  • Disabling conditions
  • Self perception of health and well-being
  • Mobility
  • Self-care
  • Communication
  • Aids used
  • Assistance needed and received
  • Transport
  • Community activities participation
  • Household use of computers and the Internet
  • Attendance at supervised activity program
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Employment limitations
  • Income
  • Carer information
  • Carer’s self perception of health and well-being
  • Carer’s assessment of the impact of their caring role.

Information from SDAC will be used by a wide range of public and private sector agencies, in particular the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the Productivity Commission and state government departments with responsibilities for planning support services for older people, people with a disability and carers.


The most recent SDAC was conducted throughout Australia from April to December 2009. The ABS has been conducting similar surveys on a five to seven year basis since 1981. Data from the survey is released approximately twelve months after the completion of enumeration (i.e. during December).

Further results from the survey will be appended to this product as data cubes between January and April 2011. A summary publication, a consolidation of the progressive releases, will be released using the same catalogue number (4430.0) on 28 April 2011.

A set of tables in spreadsheet format will be produced for each state and the Australian Capital Territory.

For individuals who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, it is expected that both a basic and an expanded confidentialised unit record file will be produced from the SDAC, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician.


The 2009 SDAC was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory.

Dwellings in each state and territory were selected at random using a multi-stage area sample. The sample for the 2009 SDAC consisted of approximately 31,900 private dwellings, 1,150 health establishments (cared accommodation) and 360 other non-private dwellings. After sample loss, the sample included approximately 27,600 private dwellings, 1,100 health establishments and 200 other non-private dwellings.

Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error is the error associated with taking a sample of dwellings rather than going to all dwellings in Australia. In this publication the sampling error is measured by the relative standard error (RSE), the standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate. Non-sampling errors can occur in any data collection, whether based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding or processing of data. Every effort is made to reduce the non–sampling error by careful design and testing of questions, training interviewers, follow-up of respondents and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.


Results from the two previous household surveys on this topic were published in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2003 (cat. no. 4430.0) and Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (cat. no. 4430.0). Data from the first three disability surveys (1981, 1988 and 1993) can be obtained by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Much of the content of the six disability surveys conducted by the ABS in 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2009 is comparable. There are differences however, as later surveys have attempted to obtain better coverage of disability, specific tasks and activities previously considered too sensitive for a population survey and identification of primary carers. For the 2003 survey, the inclusion of questions relating to unmet need for and receipt of assistance with cognition or emotion provided a better perspective on assistance needs and requirements for both physical and psychological needs. Further enhancements to measuring unmet need were added in the 2009 survey.

The Explanatory Notes section of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0) provides more detailed information on the differences between the ABS disability surveys over time.


This publication contains tables and a summary of the main findings to assist with the interpretation of the results of the survey. Detailed Explanatory notes, a Technical note on Data Quality and a Glossary are also included providing information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.


An electronic version of the tables contained in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0) is available on the ABS website, in spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet also presents relative standard errors (RSEs) relating to estimates and/or proportions for each publication table. Sets of tables containing additional results in a spreadsheet format will be appended to this product between January and April 2011. A summary publication, a consolidation of the progressive releases, will be released using the same catalogue number (4430.0) on 28 April 2011. Subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints, a set of tables equivalent to those in the consolidated publication will be produced for each state and the Australian Capital Territory (excluding time series tables). These tables will be available from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au> from June 2011.

For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis, it is expected that microdata from the 2009 SDAC will be made available. The microdata will be released in the form of two confidentialised unit record files (CURFs) Microdata: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Basic and Expanded CURF, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0.30.002). The expanded CURF will contain more detail than the basic CURF and will only be available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL), which is a secure Internet-based data query service. The basic CURF will be available via CD ROM or RADL.

Technical information describing the content and use of the basic and expanded SDAC CURFs will be available in the Information Paper: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Basic and Expanded CURF, Australia (cat. no. 4430.0.00.001). Up-to-date information on the ABS RADL service, including information on pricing, 'Applications & Undertakings', and a training manual outlining obligations and responsibilities when accessing ABS microdata, is available on the ABS website via the following link: Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL). Those wishing to access the 2009 SDAC microdata should contact the ABS using MiCRO, the ABS online CURF registration system.

Following the release of the consolidated publication on 28 April 2011, special tabulations of SDAC data will be available on request for a fee. Tabulations can be produced from the survey subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints.