The World Health Organisation defines disability in the context of health as 'an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It denotes the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual's contextual factors (environmental and personal factors)'.
The 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, conducted by the ABS, found that one in five people in Australia (20%) had a reported disability, with the rate much the same for males and females (20%). The disability rate increased with age, reaching 92% for those aged 90 years and over.
Some 6% of the population had a profound or severe core activity limitation (sometimes or always needing assistance with self-care, mobility or communication). The level of profound or severe core activity limitation gradually increased from 3% among those aged 0-4 years, to 10% among those aged 65-69 years, then increased sharply to 74% for those aged 90 years and over.