4433.0.55.007 - Unmet Need for Formal Assistance, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2015  First Issue
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In 2012, an estimated one in five Australians (just over 4 million people) had a disability. Of these people, 60.2% reported needing assistance (formal and/or informal) with at least one activity of everyday living due to their impairment.

Between 2003 and 2012 there were small increases in the proportion of people with disability who required assistance with the core activities of self-care (14.0% to 15.7%), mobility (21.4% to 23.2%) and communication (5.5% to 6.8%). Despite these increases, overall the proportion of people with disability who required assistance remained relatively stable over this time (61.5% in 2003 and 60.2% in 2012), due in part to a significant decrease in the proportion of people who required assistance with property maintenance, from 32.8% in 2003 to 29.1% in 2012.

Graph Image for People with disability(a), Proportion with a need for assistance(b) with core activities, 2003, 2009, 2012

Footnote(s): a) Living in Households b) Includes both formal and/or informal assistance needs

Source(s): Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia, 2003, 2009 and 2012

When looking at other activities (cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, meal preparation, reading or writing, household chores, property maintenance and transport), the proportion of people with disability needing assistance with these activities remained fairly stable between 2003 and 2012, with the exception of an increase in those requiring assistance with healthcare (25.8% to 29.0%) and the fore mentioned decrease in the need for assistance with property maintenance.


Of the 2.4 million people with disability (living in households) who required assistance in 2012, around two-thirds (1.5 million people) required formal assistance from an organised service provider for at least one activity. The most commonly reported activities for which people needed formal assistance were health care (45.4%), property maintenance (37.5%) and cognitive and emotional tasks (33.9%).

Of the 1.5 million people with a need for formal assistance, around half (50.7% or 774,000 people) had an unmet need for formal assistance for at least one activity of everyday living.

While this article focuses on those with an identified unmet need for formal assistance, it is important to also note those who did not know if their assistance needs were being met, as there is the possibility that some of these people may go on to have an unmet need in the future. In 2012, there were 110,800 people with disability who either needed assistance but did not know if they needed formal assistance, or received formal assistance but did not know if they needed more. This could include cases where people were not aware of an available formal service which could have otherwise helped them, or where they were unsure of their needs for assistance and so did not know whether they required formal assistance at all.