4430.0.10.001 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: First Results, 2015  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2016  First Issue
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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) 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 (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
    • patient experience
    • computer and 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, the Productivity Commission and state and territory government departments with responsibility for planning support services for older people, people with disability and carers.

This release contains a subset of the items that will be available in the main release of data later in 2016. The data items available in the first release can be found in the Data Item List in the Downloads tab.


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. The majority of the data from the survey is released approximately eight months after the completion of enumeration in the form of a summary publication, containing a set of tables in spreadsheet format. For the 2015 survey, a subset of data items will be made available in a first release publication four months after the completion of enumeration.

A set of tables in spreadsheet format will also be produced for each state and territory within twelve months of the completion of enumeration of the main release.

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 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, 300 self care retirement villages 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. 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 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, which is available in the first release of data.

The Explanatory Notes section of this publication 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 the Downloads tab of this publication are available on the ABS website, in spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet also presents relative standard errors (RSEs) relating to estimates and Margins of Error (MOE) for proportions for each publication table. 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.

For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis, it is expected that microdata from the 2015 SDAC will be made available in early 2017. More information about the microdata products that will be available will be provided in the main release of findings later in 2016.

Following the release of the 2015 SDAC First Results publication on 29 April 2016, 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.