4906.0.55.003 - Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide, 2016  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017   
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DISABILITY

POPULATION

Information was obtained from men and women aged 18 years and over in the 2016 PSS.

DEFINITION

A disability or restrictive long-term health condition exists if a limitation, restriction, impairment, disease or disorder has lasted, or is expected to last for six months or more, which restricts everyday activities.

A disability or restrictive long-term health condition is classified by whether or not a person has a specific limitation or restriction. The specific limitation or restriction is further classified by whether the limitation or restriction is a limitation in core activities, or a schooling/employment restriction only.

There are four levels of core activity limitation (profound, severe, moderate, mild). These are based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment with any core activities (self-care, mobility or communication). A person's overall level of core activity limitation is determined by their highest level of limitation in any of these activities.

METHODOLOGY

Respondents were asked about whether they had any conditions that have lasted, or are expected to last, six months or more, including:

  • Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Chronic or recurring pain
  • A nervous or emotional condition
  • Long-term effects as a result of a head injury, stroke or other brain damage
  • Any other long-term condition that requires treatment or medication
  • Any other long-term condition such as arthritis, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease or dementia

More than one response was allowed.

Respondents who selected a condition were then asked if the condition(s) they had reported restricted them in their everyday activities, and if so, which ones.

All respondents were then asked if they had any of the following conditions which had lasted, or were likely to last for six months or more:
  • Sight problems not corrected by glasses or contact lenses
  • Hearing problems
  • Speech problems
  • Blackouts, fits or loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty learning or understanding things
  • Limited use of arms or fingers
  • Difficulty gripping things
  • Limited use of legs or feet
  • Any condition that restricts physical activity or physical work (e.g. back problems, migraines)
  • Any disfigurement or deformity
  • Any mental illness for which help or supervision is required

More than one response was allowed.

Respondents who identified a condition(s) from either question were then asked about the levels of help or supervision that they may require with any of the following tasks.

1. Self-care, such as:
  • Bathing/showering
  • Dressing/undressing
  • Eating/feeding
  • Going to the toilet
  • Bladder/bowel control

2. Mobility, such as:
  • Moving around away from home
  • Moving around at home
  • Getting in or out of bed or chair

3. Communication in own language, such as:
  • Understanding/being understood by strangers, friends or family, including use of sign language/lip reading

Respondents who identified requiring help or supervision for these tasks were asked whether they always needed help with any of these tasks.

Respondents who did not require help or supervision were asked if they ever had any difficulty with the tasks.

Respondents who did not have any difficulty were then asked if they used any aids to assist with those tasks.

Respondents who did not require aids or assistance to undertake the tasks were asked whether they could do all of the following additional mobility tasks:
  • Easily walk 200 metres
  • Walk up and down stairs without a handrail
  • Easily bend to pick up an object from the floor
  • Use public transport without difficulty, help or supervision

Respondents aged 18 to 64 years with a disability were asked whether they had any difficulties with education, such as these:
  • Not attending school/further study due to condition
  • Need time off school/study
  • Attend special classes/school
  • Other related difficulties

Respondents aged 18 to 64 years with a disability were also asked whether they had any difficulties with employment, such as these:
  • Type of job they could do
  • Finding suitable work
  • Needing time off work
  • Permanently unable to work

Classification of disability status

Based on their responses, respondents were classified as follows:
  • Those who answered yes to always needing help with self-care, mobility and communication tasks were classified as having a 'profound core activity limitation'
  • Those who don't always need help with self-care, mobility and communication tasks, but may require help at times, were classified as having a 'severe core activity limitation'
  • Those who had difficulty with the self-care, mobility and communication tasks were classified as having a 'moderate core activity limitation'
  • Those who simply required aids to undertake self-care, mobility and communication tasks, or who were unable to do any of the additional mobility tasks (e.g. easily walk 200 metres, walk up and down stairs without a handrail etc.) were classified as having a 'mild core activity limitation'
  • Those who identified as having a difficulty with school/study or work, and had not already been classified previously, were classified as having a ‘school/employment restriction only’
  • Those who indicated that they had no difficulties with school/study or work, and had not already been classified previously, were classified as having ‘no limitation or specific restriction'
  • Those who had not identified any conditions in the initial questions were identified as having no disability or long-term health condition

DATA ITEMS

The data items and related output categories for this topic are contained within the SPS Level – Health and Disability tab in the data item list which is available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads tab of this product.

DATA USES

Data for this topic has been collected to provide further analytical possibilities around the relationship between disability status and characteristics of people who experience violence.

Data from this topic should not be used to only produce population estimates of people with a disability. The data should only be used in conjunction with other data related to experiences of violence collected in this survey. See Interpretation points for limitations on the representativeness of the sample.

INTERPRETATION

Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Disability status is determined based on the respondents’ conditions at the time of the survey. It does not necessarily indicate whether they had a disability at the time of any violence, stalking or sexual harassment incidents. Care should therefore be taken when making inferences for incidents that occurred in particular more than 12 months ago.
  • Conditions are 'as reported' by respondents and do not necessarily represent conditions as medically diagnosed. However, as the data relate to conditions which had lasted, or were expected to last, for six months or more, there is considered to be a reasonable likelihood that medical diagnoses would have been made in most cases. The degree to which conditions have been medically diagnosed is likely to differ across condition types.
  • 'Restricted in everyday activities' means less able, or unable, to engage in the everyday activities that a healthy individual of the same age would be able to. Respondents can perceive themselves to be restricted in everyday activities by causes other than the specific conditions listed.
  • Aids needed for any condition lasting less than six months (i.e. broken leg) were not included. Examples of aids are hearing aids, wheelchairs for long-term use, special cutlery and changes to floors/steps/paths.
  • Difficulties with education relate to situations such as being unable to attend a particular educational institution, needing time off from regular classes, or requiring special tuition. Only current difficulties with education were collected. Any difficulties a respondent may have previously experienced with education were excluded.
  • Difficulties with employment relate to situations such as being unable to work, restricted in the type of work they could do, regularly needing time off work, restricted in the number of hours they could work, or required an employer to make special arrangements for them. Only current difficulties with employment were collected. Any difficulties a respondent may have previously experienced with employment were excluded.
  • The disability data collected in this survey is not designed to produce estimates about the prevalence of disability in the population. The disability data produced should therefore only be used in conjunction with other violence prevalence data.
  • A specific requirement of the PSS was that interviews were conducted in private. Where a respondent required the assistance of another person to communicate with the interviewer, proxy interviews were conducted for a limited amount of the survey and this data was not retained on the final weighted file. Therefore it is likely that the PSS will under represent those with a profound or severe disability. For more details regarding proxy interviews refer to the Proxy section of the Survey Development and Data Collection page of this User Guide. Approximately 33% of respondents who reported a profound/severe disability, were not included in the final sample due to proxy use, or opting out.

COMPARABILITY WITH PREVIOUS SURVEYS

The Disability topic was added to the PSS in 2012 and so no comparisons can be made with the 2005 PSS or 1996 Women's Safety Survey.

Disability type and status is considered to be comparable between PSS 2012 and 2016.