4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/2013   
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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 2012 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 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
  • satisfaction with the quality and range of services
  • transport
  • community activities participation
  • feelings of safety
  • patient experience
  • 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 wellbeing
  • 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, 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 from August 2012 to March 2013. The ABS has been conducting similar surveys on a three to seven year basis since 1981. Data from the survey is released approximately eight months after the completion of enumeration (i.e. during November) in the form of a summary publication, containing a set of tables in spreadsheet format.

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 survey data, it is expected that a basic confidentialised unit record file (CURF) and TableBuilder product will be produced from the SDAC, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician.


The 2012 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 2012 SDAC consisted of approximately 34,900 private dwellings, 1,200 health establishments (cared accommodation) and 700 other non-private dwellings. After sample loss, the sample included approximately 27,400 private dwellings, 1,000 health establishments and 500 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.

Estimates and RSEs 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 three 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 seven disability surveys conducted by the ABS in 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2009 and 2012 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 now includes 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 Explanatory Notes section of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (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 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.


The tables contained in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0) are 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. Subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints, a set of tables equivalent to those in this publication 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> from March 2014.

For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis, it is expected that microdata from the 2012 SDAC will be made available in early 2014. The microdata will be released in the form of a basic confidentialised unit record file (CURF), available via CD ROM or Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL), and a TableBuilder, which is accessed online via the ABS website.

Those wishing to access the 2012 SDAC CURF should contact the ABS using MiCRO, the ABS online CURF registration system. Technical information describing the content and use of the basic SDAC CURF will be available via the microdata homepage, titled Microdata: Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0.30.002).

Those wishing to access the 2012 SDAC TableBuilder should apply via the ABS Registration Centre.

Following the release of the 2012 SDAC Summary of Findings publication on 13 November 2013, 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.