1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Disability rates by age and limitation - 2003
Graph Image for Disability rates by age and limitation - 2003

Footnote(s): (a) Profound or severe core-activity limitation.

Source(s): ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2003 (cat. no. 4430.0)


Disability can occur at any stage of a person's life and, depending on when it occurs, may affect an individual’s participation in a range of everyday activities. Disability is strongly age-related and, as a result, the support requirements of older people with disabilities are one current key policy interest, as evidenced by the National Disability Strategy. With increasing numbers of people living to older ages, and with the prospect of the large baby boomer cohorts reaching older ages, the question of how to meet the needs of older people with disabilities is becoming increasingly acute. However, disability also occurs in younger people, and for them the issues are somewhat different, such as the impact of having a disability on prospective employment opportunities and career choices.

In 2003, an estimated one in five (20%) Australians were living with a disability (almost 4 million people), while the rate of profound or severe core-activity limitation was 6.3%. Both of these rates of disability remained stable over the period 1998 to 2003 (ABS 2004).

The rate of disability among people aged 60 years and over is much higher than for younger people. Furthermore, as people grow older the severity of their disability is likely to increase, particularly for those aged 75 years and over. Consequently, people in this age group are more likely to need assistance with activities in their personal life, such as health care, communication, meal preparation and mobility.

In 2003, women aged 80 years and over had a much higher rate of profound or severe core-limitation than men in the same age group (52% compared with 34%). Over nine-tenths (92%) of all Australians aged 90 years and over were living with a disability and 74% of people in this age group were living with a profound or severe core-activity limitation.


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