4446.0 - Disability, Australia, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/05/2011   
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May 2, 2011
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

One in five Australians with a disability
Just under one in five (18.5%) Australians had a disability in 2009, according to new figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This represents approximately 4.0 million people.

The main disabling conditions reported in 2009 were back problems (15.6% of all persons with a disability) and arthritis (14.8%).

Between 2003 and 2009 the proportion of people with a disability decreased by 1.5 percentage points, mainly due to decreases in the prevalence of arthritis, back pain and asthma. However, the number of people with a disability has increased along with population growth.

During the same period, there has been almost no change in the proportion of the population with the most severe types of disabilities — those people who always need help or supervision with their mobility, communication and/or self-care. This group has remained relatively steady at approximately 2.9% of Australia's population (634,600 people in 2009).

While there have been significant improvements to support those with a disability in many parts of their lives, little improvement has been made in key areas of everyday life over the last six years:
  • labour force participation remained low at around 54%, compared to 83% for people without disabilities; and
  • Year 12 attainment was around 25% for people with disabilities, compared to just over 50% for people without disabilities.

Both of these factors may have impacts on the social and economic well-being of people with a disability.

Just over half (52%) of people aged 60 years and over had a disability. Most of these (63%) did not need any assistance to manage health conditions or cope with everyday activities. For those who did, the most commonly reported needs were help with property maintenance, household chores and mobility.

There were 2.6 million carers in Australia who provided some assistance to others who needed help because of disability or old age. Around 55% of all carers were women.

Further details are available in Disability, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4446.0) and Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0).
Media note:
When reporting ABS statistics, you must cite the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) as the source.