4446.0 - Disability, Australia, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/05/2004   
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May 6, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
One-in-five Australians report a disability: ABS

One-in-five Australians reported a disability according to preliminary findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers released today.

Almost 4 million people reported a disability last year with the rate similar for males and females. The rate increased with age, reaching 81% for those aged 85 years and over. The age standardised disability rates for total males, females and persons showed little change between 1998 and 2003 and the pattern across age groups was very similar in these two years.

The 2003 survey also found that one-in-seventeen people (5.9%) had a profound or severe level of core activity limitation (i.e. they needed help with one or more of self-care, mobility or communication activities), a slightly smaller proportion than in 1998 (6.4%). However, the rate for people aged 85 years and over dropped more substantially, from 65% in 1998 to 54% in 2003, with the decrease more marked for males than females.

People with a disability were less likely to have completed a higher educational qualification than those without a disability. One-in-five people aged 15-64 years in private households who had reported no disability had a bachelor degree or higher, compared to one-in-eight people (13%) with a disability.

Other findings for people aged 15-64 years living in private households include:
    • Many people with disabilities were not in the labour force, with participation decreasing markedly with greater levels of core activity limitation.Those with a profound level of core activity limitation were most affected, with a labour force participation rate of 15%. The rate for people without a disability was 81%.
    • People with disabilities experienced a higher unemployment rate (9%) than the those without a disability (5%).
    • People with a disability who were employed, were more likely to work in a part-time job (37%) than those who were employed and did not have a disability (29%).

Further information is in Disability 2003 Preliminary (cat. no. 4446.0). The final results are expected to be published in September 2004.