4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/10/2016   
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Institutional environment

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 2015 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) collected information in order to:

  • measure the prevalence of disability in Australia
  • measure the need for support of older people and those with 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 (Kessler scale K10 and K5)
  • mobility
  • self-care
  • communication
  • aids used
  • assistance needed and received
  • satisfaction with the quality and range of services
  • transport
  • accessibility and discrimination due to disability
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme participation
  • community activities participation
  • feelings of safety
  • patient experience
  • internet use
  • attendance at supervised activity programs
  • 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 the SDAC will be used by a wide range of public and private sector agencies, in particular the Department of Health, Department of Social Services, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Disability Insurance Agency, the Productivity Commission and state and territory government departments with responsibility for planning support services for older people, people with disability and carers.


The most recent SDAC was conducted throughout Australia in two parts: the establishment component, which ran from May to July 2015; and the household component, which was conducted from July 2015 to December 2015. The ABS has been conducting similar surveys on a three to seven year basis since 1981. For the 2015 survey, a subset of some of the key data items was released in a first results publication four months after the completion of enumeration. More detailed information in the form of a summary publication which includes a broad set of tables in spreadsheet format was released in mid October 2016.
A set of tables in spreadsheet format will also be produced for each state and territory within twelve months of the completion of enumeration.

For individuals who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the SDAC data, a basic confidentialised unit record file (CURF) and TableBuilder product will be released, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician.


The 2015 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 2015 SDAC consisted of approximately 37,000 private dwellings from the ABS private dwelling frame, 300 self-care retirement villages from the ABS special dwelling frame and 1,200 health establishments (cared accommodation). After sample loss and non-response, the final sample included approximately 25,500 private dwellings, 250 self care retirement villages and 1,000 health establishments.

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) and the margin or error (MoE) which describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within at a given level of confidence. 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.

Estimates, RSEs and MoEs in this publication have been assessed to ensure the confidentiality of those individuals and dwellings contributing to the survey. A technique has been developed to randomly adjust each estimate prior to publication, based on the mathematical method of perturbation. These adjustments result in estimates being affected by a small introduced random error, sufficient to ensure the un-weighted units counted within the estimate remain confidential. In most cases, perturbation will have only a small impact on the estimate, while ensuring the information value of the published data as a whole is not impaired.


Results from the four previous household surveys on this topic were published in:
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 eight disability surveys conducted by the ABS in 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2012 and 2015 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 2012 survey included additional content to measure concepts such as barriers and costs to health care, feelings of safety at and away from home, and satisfaction with the quality and range of health services available. The 2015 survey included additional content about discrimination and accessibility due to disability and added three new modules to the disability identification module comprising: social and behavioural difficulties, memory loss and periods of confusion, and dementia.

The Explanatory Notes section of this publication and the data item list (which can be accessed from the downloads tab of this release) provides more detailed information on the differences between the ABS disability surveys over time.


This publication contains tables and a summary of 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.


Tabulated data and associated relative standard errors (RSEs) relating to estimates and margins or error (MoEs) for proportions are available in Excel spreadsheets which can be accessed from the Downloads tab. Subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints, a set of tables will be produced for each state and territory (excluding time series tables). These tables will be available from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au> in late 2016.

It is expected that a TableBuilder and a Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) will be produced from the SDAC, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. The TableBuilder will be accessible via the ABS website, using a secure log-on portal in October 2016. Organisations will be able to register for access to the Basic CURF in late 2016/early 2017. For further details, refer to the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

Special tabulations of SDAC data are available on request for a fee. Tabulations can be produced from the survey subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints.