4433.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Disability and Long Term Health Conditions, 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/10/2000   
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October 27, 2000
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
More than 2 Million people of working age have a disability

A total of 2.1 million people, some 17 per cent of working age (15 to 64 years) living in households in 1998 had a disability, according to a new Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report published today. And over a quarter of these, or 27 per cent, were permanently unable to work due to their condition.

These findings follow an ABS survey released in April last year, which revealed that almost one in five - some 19 per cent of the population, or 3.6 million people - in Australia in 1998 had a disability. A further 3.1 million had a long-term condition or impairment but no disability (17 per cent). Of all restricting impairment types, physical impairments were the most common (2.6 million or 14 per cent), then sensory impairments or speech loss (1.2 million or 6 per cent), and intellectual impairments (493,000 or 3 per cent).

Today's report, based on the survey released last April, shows that less than half (47 per cent) of working age people with a disability and just under a third (32 per cent) of those with a profound or severe restriction, were employed. Working age people with a disability tended to be out of the workforce (47 per cent) rather than looking for work, especially those with a profound or severe restriction - those who sometimes or always needed help in the areas of self-care, mobility or communication (66 per cent).

Half of all people of working age restricted by a psychological impairment were permanently unable to work, and around two in five of those with an intellectual restricting impairment had difficulty changing or getting a better job (40 per cent) or were restricted in the type of job they could do (41 per cent).

For people of working age with a disability, nearly a quarter of their main impairments were caused through accident or injury (23 per cent) or were due to working conditions or overwork (15 per cent). Of those due to accidents, more than a third (36 per cent) of the accidents occurred at work.

The median weekly income for people aged 15 to 64 years living in households was $360, but for those with a disability it was $210. Within this group, people restricted by a sensory impairment averaged $250 a week and those restricted by an intellectual impairment, $170 a week.

People restricted by head injury, stroke or brain damage (64 per cent) or by a psychological (65 per cent) or intellectual impairment (60 per cent) were the most likely to have a profound or severe restriction.

Disability and children
  • Fewer than 1 in 12 children aged 0 to 14 years had a disability (296,300 or 8 per cent), with boys more likely to be affected (10 per cent) than girls (5 per cent).
  • Asthma was the most common condition for this age group affecting 312,000 children. However, most (74 per cent) were not restricted by this condition and did not have a disability.
  • Boys were more likely than girls to have attention deficit disorder/attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) (46,600 and 7,200 respectively).
  • Over two-thirds (67 per cent) of children with a disability needed some form of help. Guidance support was the most common for both boys and girls (54 per cent and 40 per cent respectively). Children with ADD/ADHD and intellectual/developmental disorders were most likely to need assistance. Of the 148,100 children who experienced schooling difficulties, 85 per cent received support.

Details are in Disability and Long-Term Health Conditions (cat. no. 4433.0) available from ABS bookshops in all capital cities. A more detailed summary of points of interest can be found on the Disability, Ageing and Caring Theme Page at this site.