Latest release

Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings methodology

Reference period
2018
Released
24/10/2019
Next release Unknown
First release

Explanatory notes

ScopeCollection methodGeographic coverage
Detailed information is collected from: 

    - People with disability

    - Older people (those aged 65 years and over)

    - Carers of people with disability or a long-term health condition or older people
 
- Personal visits to households

- Paper forms completed by establishments that provide long-term cared-accommodation  
The data is available at the national level and at the state level for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Some data is available for other states and territories, but this may be limited due to standard error and confidentiality constraints.
Survey responses were collected for 65,805 people:

    - 54,142 from households

    - 11,663 from cared-accommodation
 

Overview

How the data is collected

Scope

The ABS collected detailed information from three target populations:

  • people with disability
  • older people (those aged 65 years and over)
  • carers of people with disability or a long-term health condition or older people.
     

A small amount of information was collected about people not in these populations, so the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the three target populations can be compared with the general population.

The scope of the survey was people in urban and rural areas in all states and territories, living in either:

  • private dwellings and self-care retirement villages; or
  • health establishments that provided long-term cared accommodation (for at least three months).
     

The survey excluded people living in:

  • hotels, motels and short term caravan parks
  • religious and educational institutions
  • hostels for the homeless or night shelters
  • gaols or correctional institutions
  • staff quarters, guest houses, boarding houses or other long term accommodation
  • very remote areas
  • discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
     

It also excluded:

  • some diplomatic personnel of overseas governments (who were also excluded from the Census and Australia's estimated resident population)
  • people who did not usually live in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia
  • visitors to private dwellings and self-care retirement villages (who could have been included at their own residence)
  • people who were away at the time of the interview and for the rest of the interview period
     

The ABS applied rules to associate each person with only one dwelling to reduce the chance of them being selected for the survey more than once.

A survey in two parts

The ABS had two different ways of collecting information depending on whether people lived in:

  • private dwellings such as houses, flats, home units, townhouses and self-care components of retirement villages (the household component); or
  • hospitals, nursing homes, hostels and other homes for a period of three months or more (the cared-accommodation component).
     

For each part, a sample of addresses to be surveyed was developed.

In 2018, this was done using the Address Register for the first time. The Address Register was established by the ABS in 2015 as a comprehensive list of all physical addresses in Australia. It is a trusted and comprehensive data set of Australian address information. It contains current address details, coordinate reference (or “geocode”), and address use information for addresses in Australia.

How the household sample was developed

The sample for the household component was selected at random using a multi-stage area sample of addresses from the ABS's Address Register.

Since 2015 self-care retirement villages have been treated as private dwellings and included in the household component. In 2015 a separate sample of self-care retirement villages was selected, whereas in 2018, with the introduction of the Address Register, self-care retirement villages were able to be selected as part of the private dwelling sample.

How the cared-accommodation sample was developed

The ABS sent letters to all known health establishments in Australia that may provide long-term cared-accommodation. They were asked to complete an online form which collected:

  • the name and role of a contact person for the establishment
  • whether their establishment offered cared-accommodation to occupants on a long-term basis (for three months or more)
  • the current number of occupants residing in cared-accommodation
  • the type of establishment.
     

Health establishments providing cared-accommodation to residents for at least three months could be selected in the sample. The more long-term occupants an establishment had, the higher their chance of being selected. If a health establishment was selected, their contact person was asked to choose a random sample of occupants for the survey by following instructions the ABS provided.

Response rates

Households and cared-accommodation providers that were asked to participate in the survey did not always respond in full. Only full responses were included in the final data. In 2018, the household component of the SDAC exceeded the fully responding national target of 21,305 households. These tables show that there were full responses from:

  • 21,983 households (79.7% of those contacted)
  • 1,068 health establishments (90.9% of health establishments contacted).
     

Table 1.1 Household component, response rates

 Number%
Fully responding
21,983
79.7
Non response  
 Refusal
1,352
4.9
 
Non response
4,085
14.8
 
Part response
153
0.6
Total
5,590
20.3
Total 
27,573
100.0

Table 1.2 Cared-accommodation component, response rates

 Number%
Responding establishments
1,068
90.9
Non-responding establishments
107
9.1
Total
1,175
100.0


After removing people who didn't fully respond or who were outside the scope of the survey (described above), there was a final combined sample of 65,805 people comprising:

  • 54,142 people from the household component
  • 11,663 people from the cared-accommodation component
     

Household component

Collection method

From 29 July 2018 to 2 March 2019, trained interviewers visited the randomly selected households to conduct personal interviews, entering responses on a computer with special software. The interviewer first asked screening questions of a responsible adult to find out whether anyone in the household:

  • had disability
  • was aged 65 years or more
  • provided care to another person (within or outside the household).
     

Interviews with people receiving care were also used to identify carers in that household.

Where possible, people with disability, aged 65 years or more or primary carers had a personal interview. To be identified as a primary carer, a person had to be providing the most informal help with a core activity to a person with disability. The core activities were communication, mobility and self-care. Some people were not interviewed directly, but had questions answered on their behalf (a proxy interview). Proxy interviews were done for:

  • children under 15 years of age
  • 15 to 17 year olds whose parent or guardian did not agree to them being personally interviewed
  • people unable to answer for themselves due to illness, impairment, injury or language problems.
     

Interviewers asked people with disability about:

  • what help they needed and received for mobility, self-care, communication, cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, household chores, property maintenance, meal preparation, reading and writing tasks, and transport activities
  • their use of aids and equipment
  • schooling restrictions, for those aged 5 to 20 years of age
  • employment restrictions
  • how satisfied they were with the quality and range of services available
  • accessibility and discrimination related to disability
  • whether they participated in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
  • their internet use
  • how they perceived their health and well-being
  • their access and barriers to health care
  • their level of social and community participation
  • how safe they felt.
     

Interviewers asked people without disability aged 65 years and over about:

  • how they perceived their health and well-being
  • what help they needed and received for household chores, property maintenance, meal preparation, reading and writing tasks, and transport activities
  • how satisfied they were with the quality and range of services available
  • their internet use
  • their level of social and community participation
  • how safe they felt.
     

People who confirmed they were the primary carer of a person with disability were asked about:

  • the type of care they provided
  • the support available to them
  • their internet use
  • how they perceived their health and well-being
  • their access and barriers to health care
  • their level of social and community participation
  • how the caring role had affected their own health, well-being and workforce participation
  • their attitudes to, and experience of, their caring role.
     

Interviewers collected basic demographic and socio-economic information for everyone in the household, either from one responsible adult or personal interviews if preferred.

The interviewers used computers with software that reduced errors in data entry. It:

  • prompted them to check least likely responses based on previous answers
  • did not allow some contradictory responses
  • had pick lists to prevent typing errors for some responses
  • automatically converted some responses into codes.
     

Questionnaire

See the Data downloads section for the household questionnaire.

Prompt cards

See the Data downloads section for the prompt cards that interviewers used with respondents who were answering the questionnaire.

Cared-accommodation component

Collection method

Instead of interviewers visiting health establishments to personally interview a select number of occupants living in the health establishment, the contact officer who worked within the health establishment completed a separate questionnaire for each randomly selected occupant.

The range of information collected was narrower than in the household component as some topics were not:

  • suitable for a contact officer to answer on behalf of occupants; or
  • relevant to people in cared-accommodation.
     

Questionnaire

See the Data downloads section for the cared-accommodation questionnaire.

How the data is processed

Coding of long-term health conditions

The interview software automatically coded most long-term health conditions to a list of around 1,000 conditions. The rest were manually coded later. In 2018, the same code list was used as previous surveys.

Conditions could not always be reported at the full level of detail. Some conditions were grouped together under broader categories. Conditions were categorised based on the International Classification of Diseases: 10th Revision (ICD-10). There is more information about this in the 'Long-term Health Conditions ICD-10 Concordance' spreadsheet in the Data downloads section.

Editing

Once the ABS received the information collected from households and health establishments, it was checked very thoroughly to:

  • minimise contradictory responses
  • ensure relationships between pieces of information made sense (within acceptable limits)
  • investigate responses that were unusual or close to the limits of what would be expected
  • manually code responses not automatically coded during interviews
  • fill in missing responses, where there was enough information to do so.
     

Estimation methods

As only a sample of people were surveyed, their results needed to be converted into estimates for the whole population. This was done with a process called weighting. Each person or household was given a number (known as a weight) to reflect how many people or households they represented in the whole population. A person's or household’s initial weight was based on their probability of being selected in the sample. For example, if the probability was 1 in 300, their initial weight would be 300 (meaning they represented 300 others). The initial weights were then adjusted to align with independent estimates of the in scope population, referred to as ‘benchmarks’. The benchmarks used additional information about the population to ensure that:

  • people or households in the sample represented people or households that were similar to them
  • the survey estimates reflected the distribution of the whole population, not the sample.
     

For example, the benchmarking meant that 0-5 year olds in Victoria in the survey represented other 0-5 year olds in Victoria, and males in large households in the survey represented other males in large households.

The household component was benchmarked to the estimated in scope population as at 30 November 2018. Information used to benchmark included:

  • age (in 5 year age groups)
  • sex
  • usual place of residence
  • household composition
  • the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) index of relative socio-economic disadvantage national decile.
     

Previous iterations of SDAC were not weighted using SEIFA benchmarks. SEIFA benchmarks were added as an additional benchmark to the 2018 data when it was found that weighting without these benchmarks underestimated the number of people in low socio-economic areas.

The cared-accommodation component was benchmarked to the number of people living in long-term cared-accommodation in each state.

Using benchmarks means the estimates in SDAC match the composition of the whole population in scope of the survey. They do not match estimates for the total Australian population from other sources as these may include people living in non-private dwellings, very remote parts of Australia and discrete Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities.

Estimates of the number of people in the population with a particular characteristic can be obtained by adding up the weights of all the people in the sample with that characteristic. Non-person estimates (eg number of health conditions) can be obtained by multiplying the characteristic with the weight of each reporting person and then adding up the results.

Age standardisation

Australia's age structure is changing over time. Some disabilities are more common in particular age groups. If the rates of those disabilities increase over time in a particular age group, it could just be because the proportion of people in that age group is increasing. Age standardisation removes age as a possible factor. If there is still an increase after doing age standardisation, that particular disability really is becoming more common.

The ABS used the direct age standardisation method with the standard population being the 30 June 2001 Estimated Resident Population. The standardisation has 5 year age group categories, up to 75 years and over.

The totals in Tables 1 and 2 present age standardisation by comparing rates over time.

Accuracy

Two types of error affect the accuracy of sample surveys: sampling and non-sampling error.

Sampling error

Sampling error is the difference between:

  • estimates for a population made by surveying only a sample of people and
  • results from surveying everyone in the population.
     

The size of the sampling error can be measured. It is reported as the Relative Standard Error (RSE) and 95% Margin of Error (MOE). For more information see the Technical Note.

In this publication, estimates with a RSE of 25% to 50% were flagged to indicate that the estimate has a high level of sampling error, and should be used with caution. Estimates with a RSE over 50% were also flagged and are generally considered too unreliable for most purposes.

Margins of Error are provided for proportions to help people using the data to assess how reliable it is. The proportion combined with the MOE shows the range likely to include the true population value with a given level of confidence. This is known as the confidence interval. People using the data need to consider this range if they are making decisions based on the proportion.

Non-sampling error

Non-sampling error can occur in any data collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full population count such as a census. Non-sampling errors occur when survey processes work less effectively than intended. Examples include errors in:

  • reporting by respondents
  • recording of answers by interviewers
  • coding and processing of the data.
     

Non-response is another type of non-sampling error. This happens when people are unable to or do not respond, or cannot be contacted. Non-response can affect the reliability of results and can introduce a bias. The size of any bias depends on the rate of non-response and how much difference there is in the characteristics of people who responded to the survey and those who did not.

The ABS used the following methods to reduce the level and impact of non-response:

  • face-to-face interviews with respondents
  • the use of proxy interviews when there were language difficulties, noting the interpreter was typically a family member
  • follow-up of respondents if there was initially no response
  • weighting to population benchmarks to reduce non-response bias.
     

Rounding

  • Estimates in this publication have been rounded.
  • Proportions are based on rounded estimates.
  • Calculations using rounded estimates may differ from those published.
     

How the data is released

The results of the 2018 SDAC include a Summary of Findings and data cubes (presented in a spreadsheet format) which contain a broad selection of national estimates. Further data will be released in a range of formats including:

  • detailed microdata to be released in the DataLab at the same time as the main publication
  • a TableBuilder product (subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician) to be accessible via the ABS website using a secure log-on portal in late 2019
  • a set of data cubes containing a broad selection of estimates for each state and territory (subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints) in early 2020
  • a Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) (subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician) to be available for download in early 2020
  • a number of supplementary themed publications, released progressively after the main publication
  • tables produced on request to meet specific information requirements from the survey (subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints).
     

Data item list

For further information on the comparability of data items see the Data downloads section for the 2018 SDAC Data Item List.

Confidentiality

The Census and Statistics Act, 1905 authorises the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that information is not published in a way that could identify a particular person or organisation. The ABS must make sure that information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data. The ABS takes care in the specification of tables to reduce the risk of identifying individuals. Random adjustment of the data is considered the best way to do this. A technique called perturbation randomly adjusts all cell values to prevent identifiable data being exposed. These adjustments result in small introduced random errors, which often result in tables not being 'internally consistent' (ie interior cells not adding up to the totals). However, the information value of the table as a whole is not impacted. This technique allows the production of very large/detailed tables valued by clients even when they contain cells of very small numbers.

Perturbation was applied to published data from 2012 onwards. Data from surveys before 2012 have not been perturbed, but have been confidentialised by suppressing cells if required.

Concepts, sources and methods

Main concepts

The main concepts of this survey are:

  • disability
  • long-term health condition
  • specific limitation or restriction
  • core activity limitation and levels of restriction
  • need for assistance.
     

How the data is structured

Tables and other information presented in this publication were produced from over 1200 data items. Some of these data items came from responses to individual survey questions. Others were derived based on answers to multiple questions. For example the item 'disability status' was derived from responses to approximately 80 questions. All data items were stored in the output data file, which was very similar to the file from the 2015 survey. The data was structured into the following 10 levels:

LevelInformation type
1. HouseholdHousehold size, structure and income details
2. FamilyFamily size and structure, including whether there was a carer and/or a person with disability in the family
3. Income unitIncome unit size and whether there was a primary carer in the income unit
4. Person (the main level)Demographic, socio-economic and health related characteristics of the survey respondents
5. All conditionsLong-term health conditions reported in the survey
6. RestrictionsRestrictions reported in the survey
7. Specific activitiesHow much support people needed to perform specific activities, such as moving about their place of residence
8. RecipientRespondents who needed help or supervision with everyday activities because of their age or disability, whose carers lived in the same household.
9. Broad activitiesHow much support people needed to perform tasks at the broad activity level (eg mobility, communication)
10. Assistance providersPeople providing assistance to others because of age or disability, including the types of assistance they provided


The first four levels are in a hierarchical relationship: a person is a member of an income unit, which is a member of a family, which is a member of a household. Levels five to nine are in a hierarchical relationship with the person level and level ten is in a hierarchical relationship with level nine. All person and lower level records link to a household, family and income unit record. However, lower level records only exist where the person is in the relevant population.

Data about households and families are contained as individual characteristics on person records. A full list of the output data items available from this survey can be accessed from the 2018 SDAC Data Item List.

Interpretation of results

Measuring disability

Disability is a difficult concept to measure because it depends on a person's perception of their ability to perform a range of day-to-day activities. Factors discussed below should also be considered when interpreting results. Wherever possible results were based on personal responses – people answering for themselves. However, in some cases information was provided by another person (a proxy), and these answers may have differed from how the selected person would have responded. The concepts of 'need' and 'difficulty' were more likely to be affected by proxy interviews.

Certain conditions may not have been reported because:

  • there was sensitivity about them (eg alcohol and drug-related conditions, other mental health conditions)
  • they were episodic or seasonal (eg asthma, epilepsy) so not present at the time of the survey
  • a person reporting for someone else was unaware of a condition they had (eg mild diabetes) or did not know the correct term for it.
     

As certain conditions may not have been reported, data collected from the survey may have underestimated the number of people with one or more disabilities.

The need for help may have been underestimated. Some people may not have admitted to needing help because they wanted to remain independent, or did not realise they needed help because they had always received it.

People have different ways of assessing whether they have difficulty performing tasks. Some might compare themselves to others of a similar age, others might compare themselves to their own ability when younger.

The different collection methods used (personal interview for households, and administrator completed questionnaire for cared-accommodation) may have affected the reporting of need for assistance with core activities. This would have affected measures such as disability status. This would have had a bigger impact on the older age groups because they were more likely to be in cared-accommodation.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

Since 2015, the SDAC has collected information about National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participation for future use in comparing outcomes for NDIS participants compared with those who are not participants. At the time of 2018 enumeration, the NDIS was still rolling out in many jurisdictions and therefore the data reflects only those who reported receiving an agreed package of support through NDIS at the time of enumeration. Given this, the ABS would advise users to carefully consider these limitations if looking to use NDIS data in any analysis, especially when analysing data at finer levels. The NDIS variable has not been included in the Summary of Findings tables or analysis.

Self-completed forms for primary carers

In this survey, people who confirmed they were the primary carer of a person with a disability were also asked to complete a paper questionnaire which asked about their attitudes to, and experience of, their caring role. Allowing them to complete the questionnaire privately rather than responding verbally to interviewer questions was considered the best way to get accurate responses to these more personal questions.

Some data items related to primary carers were derived from questions answered in this self-completion questionnaire. In 2018, approximately 10% of the primary carer population did not complete the self-completion questionnaire. Non-responses could have caused biased results if those who responded to the self-completion questionnaire were in some way different to the total population of primary carers. Analysis of 2018 data showed that there were no statistically significant differences between the characteristics of all primary carers and those who responded to the questionnaire.

Non-responses to the self-completed form were excluded when proportions were calculated for primary carer data items using questions from this form.

Standards and classifications

Classifications

Long-term health conditions described in this publication were categorised to an output classification developed for the SDAC, based on the International Classification of Diseases: 10th Revision (ICD-10). For a concordance of codes used in the 2018 SDAC with the ICD-10 please refer to the Long-term Health Conditions ICD-10 Concordance spreadsheet. This classification, with some minor amendments, has been used since the 2003 survey.

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

Socio-economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) is a suite of four summary measures that were created from 2016 Census information. Each index summarises a different aspect of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measures such as income or unemployment alone.

SEIFA uses a broad definition of relative socio-economic disadvantage in terms of people's access to material and social resources and their ability to participate in society. While SEIFA represents an average of all people living in an area, it does not represent the individual situation of each person. Larger areas are more likely to have greater diversity of people and households.

For more detail, see the Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001).

History of changes

The 2018 SDAC is the ninth national survey, following similar surveys in 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2012 and 2015.

Comparability with previous Surveys of Disability, Ageing and Carers

Most of the content of the nine disability surveys conducted by the ABS is comparable. There are differences, however, as more recent surveys have tried to get better coverage of disability and of specific tasks and activities previously thought to be too sensitive for a population survey. For further information on the comparability of data items and new data items see the 2018 SDAC Data Item List.

Appendix - conceptual framework: disability

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All persons, by disability status, 2018

All persons, by disability status, 2018

Image shows:

 All persons (a): 24,667,300 (100%), made up of:

  • All persons without disability: 20,300,600 (82.3%), comprising Persons without disability with a long term health condition: 5,458,300 (22.1%) and Persons without disability without a long term health condition: 14,843,300 (60.2%)
  • All persons with disability: 4,367,200 (17.7%), comprising Persons with disability without specific limitations or restrictions: 509,800 (2.1%) and Persons with disability with specific limitations or restrictions: 3,858,800 (15.6%). This Persons with disability with specific limitations or restrictions group (3,858,800 (15.6%)) comprises Persons with disability with schooling or employment restrictions only(b): 338,300 (1.4%) and Persons with disability with core activity limitation: 3,520,300 (14.3%). This Persons with disability with core activity limitation group (3,520,300 (14.3%)) comprises Persons with disability with profound core limitation: 780,200 (3.2%) and Persons with disability with severe core limitation: 632,900 (2.6%) and Persons with disability with moderate core limitation: 601,400 (2.4%) and Persons with disability with mild core limitation: 1,507,400 (6.1%). The Persons with disability with profound core limitation group (780,200 (3.2%)) comprises those living in households (c): 613,400 (2.5%) and those living in cared-accommodation: 165,600 (0.7%). The Persons with disability with severe core limitation group (632,900 (2.6%)) comprises those living in households: 615,200 (2.5%), and those living in cared-accommodation: 17,000 (0.1%). The Persons with disability with moderate core limitation group (601,400 (2.4%)) comprises those living in households: 599,600 (2.4%) and those living in cared-accommodation: 1,800 (0.0%). The Persons with disability with mild core limitation group (1,507,400 (6.1%)) comprises those living in households: 1,504,200 (6.1%) and those living in cared-accommodation: 1,900 (0.0%). 
     

Note:

  • Estimates have been rounded to the nearest one hundred persons 
  • Due to rounding the sum of subtotals may not equal totals 
  • Derived from Table 3.1
     
  1. For more information on the terms used, refer to the Glossary and appendices associated with this publication 
  2. Excludes people with disability who have both a core activity limitation and a schooling or employment restriction
  3. 'Living in households’ comprises all private dwellings

Appendix - conceptual framework: carers

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All persons living in households, by carer status, 2018

All persons living in households, by carer status, 2018

Image shows:

 All persons living in households (a): 24,472,300 (100%) made up of:

  • Persons aged less than 15 years (b):4,660,800 (19.0%), comprising Not a carer: 4,612,000 (18.8%) and Carer: 46,300 (0.2%). This Carer group (46,300 (0.2%)) comprises those With disability: 9,300 (0.0%) and those Without disability: 37,300 (0.2%).
  • Persons aged 15 years and over: 19,811,000 (81%), comprising Not a carer: 17,216,500 (70.4%) and Carer: 2,596,700 (10.6%). This Carer group (2,596,700 (10.6%)) comprises Primary Carer: 861,600 (3.5%) and Not a primary carer: 1,736,500 (7.1%). This Primary Carer group (861,600 (3.5%)) comprises those With disability: 322,600 (1.3%) and those Without disability: 537,600 (2.2%). This Not a primary carer group (1,736,500 (7.1%)) comprises those With disability: 518,600 (2.1%) and those Without disability: 1,217,000 (5.0%). 
     

Note:

  • estimates have been rounded to the nearest one hundred persons 
  • due to rounding the sum of subtotals may not equal totals 
  • derived from Table 30.1
     
  1. 'Living in households’ comprises all private dwellings 
  2. In this survey, a person aged under 15 years cannot be considered a primary carer. For a complete definition of primary carers, refer to the Carers appendix associated with this publication.

Appendix - limitations and restrictions

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In this survey, limitations relate to core activities while restrictions refer to schooling and employment. The limitations or restrictions are divided into activities and each activity is broken into tasks.

To identify whether a person has a particular type of limitation or restriction, the survey collects information on their:

  • need for assistance
  • difficulty experienced and
  • use of aids or equipment
     

to perform selected tasks.

This table shows the tasks associated with each type of limitation and restriction.

Limitation or restrictionActivityTasks
Specific limitation or restriction  
Core activity limitationsCommunicationUnderstanding family or friends
   Being understood by family or friends
   Understanding strangers
   Being understood by strangers
  MobilityGetting into or out of a bed or chair
   Moving about usual place of residence
   Moving about a place away from usual residence
   Walking 200 metres
   Walking up and down stairs without a handrail
   Bending and picking up an object from the floor
   Using public transport
  Self-careShowering or bathing
   Dressing
   Eating
   Toileting
   Bladder or bowel control
Schooling or employment restrictionsSchoolingUnable to attend school
   Attends a special school
   Attends special classes at an ordinary school
   Needs at least one day a week off school on average
   Has difficulty at school
  EmploymentPermanently unable to work
   Restricted in the type of work they can or could do
   Needs, or would need, at least one day a week off work on average
   Restricted in the number of hours they can, or could, work
   Requires special equipment, modified work environment or special arrangements
   Needs ongoing assistance or supervision
   Would find it difficult to change jobs or get a preferred job
   Needs assistance from a disability job placement program or agency
Without specific limitation or restriction  
Other activitiesHealth careFoot care
  Taking medications or administering injections
   Dressing wounds
   Using medical equipment
   Manipulating muscles or limbs
  Reading or writingChecking bills or bank statements
   Writing letters
   Filling in forms
  TransportGoing to places away from the usual place of residence
  Household choresLaundry
   Vacuuming
   Dusting
  Property maintenanceChanging light bulbs, taps or washers
   Making minor home repairs
   Mowing lawns, watering, pruning shrubs, light weeding or planting
   Removing rubbish
  Meal preparationPreparing ingredients
   Cooking food
  Cognition or emotionMaking friendships, maintaining relationships, or interacting with others
   Coping with feelings or emotions
   Decision making or thinking through problems
   Managing own behaviour

Appendix - disability groups

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Disabilities can be broadly grouped depending on whether they relate to functioning of the mind or the senses, or to anatomy or physiology. Disability groups may refer to a single disability or a number of broadly similar disabilities. The SDAC module relating to disability groups was designed to identify six separate groups based on the particular type of disability identified.

These groups are:

Sensory

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted or an aid is used
  • speech difficulties
     

Intellectual

  • difficulty learning or understanding things
     

Physical

  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities
  • blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers
  • difficulty gripping or holding things
  • incomplete use of feet or legs
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work
  • disfigurement or deformity
     

Psychosocial

  • nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision
  • memory problems or periods of confusion that restrict everyday activities
  • social or behavioural difficulties that restrict everyday activities
     

Head Injury, stroke or acquired brain injury

  • head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities
     

Other

  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still restricted in everyday activities
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction in everyday activities
     

In the disability groups module people could be counted more than once if they had disabilities from more than one disability group. For example, a person with hearing loss and speech difficulties would only be counted once, in the sensory disability group. However, a person with hearing loss and a physical deformity would be counted twice; once in the sensory disability group and once in the physical disability group. This means that the sum of the components of data from the disability groups module does not add to the total persons with disability.

Each of the disability types listed above is a separate module in the SDAC questionnaire. The questionnaire has more detail on how conditions have been classified.

Appendix - carers

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A carer is a person who provides any informal assistance (help or supervision) to people with disability or older people (aged 65 years and over). The assistance must be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months.

Where the carer lives in the same household as the person they care for, the assistance is for one or more of the following activities:

Core activities:

  • Mobility
  • Self-care
  • Communication.
     

Non-core activities:

  • Health care
  • Cognitive or emotional tasks
  • Household chores
  • Property maintenance
  • Meal preparation
  • Reading or writing
  • Transport.
     

Carers do not have to live in the same household as the person they care for. Assistance to a person living in a different household to the carer relates to everyday activities, without specific information on the type of activity.

If a person provides formal assistance (on a regular paid basis, usually associated with an organisation) they are not considered to be carers in this survey.

Informal assistance is unpaid, with the following exceptions:

  • small amounts of money, or payments for expenses incurred, can be paid to the carer by the person they care for
  • any assistance received from family or friends living in the same household is considered to be informal care, whether or not the carer is paid
  • if the carer is receiving a carer payment or other allowances, they are still regarded as providing informal care.
     

People who care for young children are only considered carers if their assistance is needed because of a long-term health condition or disability, not because of the child's age.

If there are multiple people caring for the same person, the survey distinguishes between primary and other carers. A person can be both a primary carer and an other carer. There is more information on types of carers below.

If a person cares for someone with a long term health condition only (who does not have a disability and is under 65) they are not considered to be a carer.

How carers are identified

The survey has a series of screening questions. A carer can be identified by:

  • any responsible adult who answers broad questions about household members in the disability identification section 
  • the person receiving care in their personal interview.
     

Primary carer

In this survey a primary carer is a person who:

  • is aged 15 years or over; and 
  • provides the most informal assistance to a person with one or more disabilities, with one or more of the core activities of mobility, self-care or communication.
     

 Primary carers and the people they care for may live in different households, but information about primary carers was only collected if they lived in households in the SDAC sample.

 Where carers and the people they care for lived in the same household the survey collected information from both. Occasionally carers and the person they cared for gave inconsistent responses. For example some carers considered themselves a primary carer but the person they cared for indicated that they did not require a primary carer as they did not have a core activity limitation. This inconsistency means that in a small number of cases, some primary carers will be reported as providing support to a person with non-core limitations only.  

Unconfirmed primary carer

An unconfirmed primary carer is a person:

  • identified as a carer by any responsible adult or the person they care for 
  • whose primary carer status could not be confirmed as they were unavailable for a personal interview.
     

Other carer

An ‘other carer’ is a carer who meets any of these conditions. They:

  • are aged under 15 years; or 
  • provide informal assistance with one or more of the core activity tasks but not the most assistance; or 
  • only assist with non-core activities.
     

 This includes unconfirmed primary carers.

Fall-back career

A fall-back carer is someone the primary carer identifies as being able to take over their care responsibilities if the primary carer is unavailable. A fall-back carer cannot be a formal provider.

Principal carer

This term has not been used since the 2003 survey. Previously, a principal carer was only identified by the person receiving care, as being the person who provided them with the most care, and not by the initially responding responsible adult. These carers were not asked to confirm their carer status. From 2009, personal interviews were conducted to confirm whether they were a primary carer or not. 

Definitions of carers

This table shows the differences between primary and other types of carers. 

CharacteristicPrimary carersOther carers*
Age of carer15 years and overAll ages
Level of supportProvides the most informal assistance of all informal carersNot identified as providing the most support
Support providedGenerally must provide support with at least one core activity (mobility, self-care or communication). May also provide support with non-core activitiesMay provide support with core or non-core activities
RecipientAny person with disabilityAny person with disability or person aged 65 years and over without disability

*Includes Unconfirmed primary carers

Appendix - formal providers of assistance for broad area of activity

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The survey asked respondents about their two main formal providers of assistance for ten broad areas of activity:

  • Core activities
     
    • Mobility
    • Self-care
    • Communication
       
  • Non-core activities
     
    • Health care
    • Cognitive or emotional tasks
    • Household chores
    • Property maintenance
    • Meal preparation
    • Reading or writing
    • Transport
       

Respondents were provided with a pick list of assistance providers, which differed depending on the activity. Some care providers were not listed for particular activities as it would not be common for them to assist with those activities. The table below shows which formal providers are available for each broad activity.

If the respondent reported an assistance provider that was not a category on the relevant pick list, it was coded to 'Other formal provider'. Where there was a large number of a certain type of provider listed as 'Other formal provider' for a particular activity area, these were grouped together and an output category was created.

For example, when a respondent reported that a nurse was their provider of assistance for Mobility, this was coded as 'Nurse' (which is an available category on the pick list for Mobility). However, if a respondent reported that a Nurse assisted them with Cognitive or emotional tasks, this was coded as 'Other formal provider', as it was not a category for Cognitive or emotional tasks.

Respondents could nominate a maximum of two providers of care for each of the 10 broad areas of activity. If a person received assistance from three or more different formal providers, they were asked to pick the two main providers.

These collection methods need to be considered when analysing data on formal assistance providers for the ten broad areas of activity. Care should then be taken when analysing all activities in which a type of assistance provider might be involved.

 Mobility (excludes walking 200m, stairs and picking up objects)Self-careOral communicationHealth careCognitive or emotional tasksHousehold choresProperty maintenanceMeal preparationReading or writingPrivate transport
Nursexxxx xxxxx
Speech therapist  x       
Teacherx x x   x 
Chiropodist / Podiatrist   x      
Physiotherapist   x      
Doctor   xx     
Chemist   xx     
Other health worker xxxx   x 
Psychologist    x     
Psychiatrist    x     
Counsellor    x     
Public guardian    x   x 
Cleaner     x    
Housekeeper     x    
Gardener      x   
Handyperson      x   
Tradesperson      x   
Landlord      x   
Unit manager      x   
Meals on wheels       x  
Food retailer       x  
Accountant        x 
Financial advisor        x 
Lawyer        x 
Home care workerxx x xxxxx
Voluntary workerxx x xx xx
Teacher's aide / School services officer  x x   x 
Non-profit support servicesxxx     xx
Local governmentx        x
Other governmentx        x
Other formal providerxxxxxxxxxx

Appendix - modelled estimates for small areas

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Introduction

1 Data cubes 2018 SDAC SA2 modelled estimates and 2018 SDAC LGA modelled estimates contain modelled estimates of disability and carers for small areas based on data from the 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), 2016 Australian Census of Population and Housing, the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) as at 30 June 2018, and aggregated administrative data sourced from the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU), February 2020 release.

2 These modelled estimates of characteristics associated with disability and carers at a small area level for the Australian population were produced by the ABS. This core set of tables was also produced for the 2015 SDAC and is similar to consultancies that the ABS undertook in 2015 (based on 2012 SDAC data) and 2010 (based on 2009 SDAC data), which produced a wider set of modelled small area estimates.

3 The modelled estimates for small areas can be interpreted as the expected value for a typical area in Australia with the same characteristics. There will be differences between the disability or carer characteristic prediction and the actual number of people with that characteristic not accounted for in the measure of accuracy. One explanation for this is that significant local information about particular small areas exists, but has not been included in the model as it is not available to the ABS. It is important to consider local area knowledge, such as information on disability or carer related facilities and businesses in the area, when interpreting the modelled estimates for that region.

4 Used in conjunction with an understanding of local area characteristics and their reliability limitations, modelled estimates for small areas can assist in making decisions on issues, such as the requirement for services, relevant to disability and carer populations at the small area level. Care needs to be taken to ensure decisions are not based on inaccurate estimates. It is recommended that the provided modelled estimates for small areas are aggregated to larger regions (such as regional planning regions) as this will improve the accuracy of the estimates upon which decisions may be based.

Population groups

5 The modelled estimates for small areas are applicable to private dwellings in scope of the SDAC 2018 private dwellings collection. Data for special dwellings (approximately 17.7% of the total 2018 SDAC sample) was excluded. Please refer to the Notes tab within each spreadsheet for the population group each table of data relates to.

Geography

6 Modelled estimates for small areas have been produced at the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) and Local Government Area (LGA) level for all jurisdictions.

7 SA2s are defined within the main structure of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). They are medium-sized general purpose areas built up from whole Statistical Areas Level 1 (SA1s). Their purpose is to represent a community that interacts together socially and economically.

8 LGAs are not defined or maintained within the main structure of the ASGS. They are an ABS approximation of gazetted local government boundaries as defined by each State and Territory Local Government Department. For more detailed information, the 2018 SDAC Small Area Estimates Explanatory Notes are available on request from disability.statistics@abs.gov.au.

Methodology

9 To produce accurate and detailed estimates of disability and carer characteristics at the small area level, models are created using detailed SDAC data, in conjunction with Census data, and ERP data to produce modelled estimates for small areas. The modelling method assumes that the relationships observed at the higher geographic level (as available in SDAC) between the characteristics of interest and known characteristics also hold at the small area level.

Reliability of estimates

10 The errors associated with the modelled estimates for small areas fall into four categories. Sampling error, non-sampling error, modelling error, and prediction error. The relative root mean squared error (RRMSE) provides an indication of the deviation of the modelled estimate from the true value. The RRMSE is primarily a measure of prediction error, but in its calculation it also inherits some aspects of modelling and sampling error.

Confidentiality

11 Estimates have been confidentialised to ensure they meet ABS requirements for confidentiality.

12 Because SDAC population benchmarks have been used in the modelling process, the modelled estimates provided here can also be considered perturbed. Users should note that due to perturbation, the summing, or aggregation, of the modelled estimates to derive a total (e.g. at state level) will not necessarily give the same result as the published total. In these cases, the difference between the sum of modelled estimates for small areas and the published total will be small and will not impact the overall information value of the aggregate total or any individual component.

13 Aggregation of the modelled estimates of small areas to capital city or state/territory level is not recommended. If you require capital city or state/territory level data for the characteristics of disability and carers provided here at small area level, the appropriate source is published survey data (and/or use of the TableBuilder product).

14 The tables of modelled estimates include a 'population' count created solely for analysis of the small area data; these are not official ABS population statistics.

Additional information

15 Detailed Explanatory Notes are available for the 2018 SDAC Modelled Estimates for Small Areas Explanatory Notes. These can be obtained on request from disability.statistics@abs.gov.au. We recommend reading the full content of these explanatory notes to ensure the best and most appropriate usage of the data.

Technical note - data quality

Reliability of estimates

Two types of error are possible in estimates based on a sample survey:

  • non-sampling error
  • sampling error
     

​​​​​​​Non-sampling error

Non-sampling error is caused by factors other than those related to sample selection. It is any factor that results in the data values not accurately reflecting the true value of the population.

It can occur at any stage throughout the survey process. Examples include:

  • selected persons that do not respond (eg refusals, non-contact)
  • questions being misunderstood
  • responses being incorrectly recorded
  • errors in coding or processing the survey data
     

​​​​​​​Sampling error

Sampling error is the expected difference that can occur between the published estimates and the value that would have been produced if the whole population had been surveyed.

​​​​​​​Standard error

One measure of sampling error is the standard error (SE). There are about two chances in three that an estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if the whole population had been included. There are about 19 chances in 20 that an estimate will differ by less than two SEs.

Relative standard error

The relative standard error (RSE) is a useful measure of sampling error. It is the SE expressed as a percentage of the estimate:

\(\Large{R S E \%=\left(\frac{S E}{e s t i m a t e}\right) \times 100}\)

RSEs for published estimates are supplied in Excel data tables, available via the Data downloads section.

Only estimates with RSEs less than 25% are considered reliable for most purposes. Estimates with larger RSEs, between 25% and less than 50% have been included in the publication, but are flagged to indicate they are subject to high SEs. These should be used with caution. Estimates with RSEs of 50% or more have also been flagged and are considered unreliable for most purposes.

​​​​​​​Standard errors of proportions and percentages

A measure of sampling error can be calculated for proportions formed from the ratio of two estimates.

For proportions where the denominator (y) is an estimate of the number of persons in a group and the numerator (x) is the number of persons in a sub-group of the denominator, the formula to approximate the RSE is given below. The formula is only valid when x is a subset of y: 

\(\Large{{RSE}\left(\frac{x}{y}\right) \approx \sqrt{[R S E(x)]^{2}-[R S E(y)]^{2}}}\)

​​​​​​​Comparison of estimates

Published estimates can be used to calculate the difference between two survey estimates. The sampling error of the difference between two estimates depends on their SEs and the relationship (correlation) between them.

An approximate SE of the difference between two estimates (x-y) may be calculated by the following formula:

\(\Large{S E(x-y) \approx \sqrt{[S E(x)]^{2}+[S E(y)]^{2}}}\)

While the above formula will only be exact for differences between unrelated characteristics of sub-populations, it is expected that it will provide a reasonable approximation for other data comparisons.

​​​​​​​Margins of error

Another measure of sampling error is the Margin of Error (MOE). This describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within. It is specified at a given level of confidence. Confidence levels typically used are 90%, 95% and 99%.

For example, at the 95% confidence level, the MOE indicates that there are about 19 chances in 20 that the estimate will differ by less than the specified MOE from the population value (the figure obtained if the whole population had been enumerated). The 95% MOE is calculated as 1.96 multiplied by the SE: 

\(\Large{{MOE}(y) \approx \frac{R S E(y) \times y}{100} \times 1.96}\)

The MOEs in this publication are calculated at the 95% confidence level. This can easily be converted to a 90% confidence level by multiplying the MOE by:

\(\LARGE{\frac{1.645}{1.96}}\)

or to a 99% confidence level by multiplying the MOE by: 

\(\LARGE{\frac{2.576}{1.96}}\)

​​​​​​​Confidence intervals

A confidence interval expresses the sampling error as a range in which the population value is expected to lie at a given level of confidence. The confidence interval can easily be constructed from the MOE by taking the estimate plus or minus the MOE of the estimate.

Significance testing

When comparing estimates between surveys or between populations within a survey, it is useful to determine whether apparent differences are 'real' differences or simply the product of differences between the survey samples.

One way to examine this is to determine whether the difference between the estimates is statistically significant. This is done by calculating the standard error of the difference between two estimates (x and y) and using that to calculate the test statistic using the formula below:

\(\LARGE\frac{|x-y|}{S E(x-y)} \)

where

\(\Large{S E(y) \approx\frac{R S E(y) \times y}{100}}\)

If the value of the statistic is greater than 1.96, we can say there is good evidence of a statistically significant difference at 95% confidence levels between the two populations with respect to that characteristic. Otherwise, it cannot be stated with confidence that there is a real difference between the populations.

Glossary

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Ability to get support in a time of crisis

Refers to whether a person has someone outside their household that would be prepared to provide support in a time of crisis. Support could be in the form of emotional, physical or financial help. Potential sources of support could be family members, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and various community, government and professional organisations.

Accompany

A carer is said to accompany their recipient of care when they attend an activity together. This excludes occasions when the recipient of care is only driven to or from the activity by the carer.

Activity

An activity comprises one or more tasks. See Limitations and Restrictions (Appendix) for a summary table of restrictions, activities and tasks. In this survey, tasks have been grouped into the following ten activities:

  • cognition or emotion
  • communication
  • health care
  • household chores
  • meal preparation
  • mobility
  • property maintenance
  • reading or writing
  • self-care
  • transport
     

Address Register (AR)

The Address Register is a comprehensive list of all physical addresses in Australia. The basis of the AR is the quarterly Geo-coded National Address File (G-NAF) provided by PSMA Australia, which is supplemented with information from other available address data sources such as Google Earth and Street view and field work by ABS Officers, including ABS canvassing officers.

Age

The age of a person on their last birthday.

Age standardised disability rate

An age standardised rate is calculated to remove the effects of different age structures when comparing populations over time. A standard age composition is used, in this case the age composition of the estimated resident population of Australia at 30 June 2001. An age standardised rate is that which would have prevailed if the actual population had the standard age composition. Age-specific disability rates are multiplied by the standard population for each age group. The results are added and the sum calculated as a percentage of the standard population total to give the age standardised percentage rate.

Aids or equipment

Refers to any aids, equipment or other devices used by a person with one or more disabilities to assist them with performing tasks, but does not include help provided by another person or an organisation.

Any responsible adult

The Any Responsible Adult (ARA), or proxy, method of interviewing is used in a number of ABS household surveys as an alternative to personal interviewing. This involves obtaining information about all the persons in a selected household who are in scope of the survey, from the first responsible adult with whom the interviewer makes contact (rather than speaking to each individual personally). The method is only used for collecting information on topics where other members of the household are likely to be able to answer the question. If the ARA is unable to supply all of the details for another individual in the household, a personal interview is conducted with that particular individual.

Assistance

Includes help that is being received, as well as help that may be needed, but not being received, in common activities of daily life such as showering or dressing, moving around, housework and gardening, or using transport. The help or assistance must be because of the person's disability, long-term health condition or old age.

Assistive communication 'app'

Includes applications that can turn a smart phone or tablet into a communication aid to help with any of the following:

  • Hearing: by enabling a phone to be used as a hearing aid
  • Speech: by creating speech for a person who is unable to speak
  • Vision: by audibly stating what can be seen through the camera on a device
     

Attended a sporting event as a spectator

A person is considered to have attended a sporting event as a spectator if they have deliberately been to watch a sporting match or competition in Australia, or overseas, regardless of whether they paid to do so. This excludes attendances that were incidental, such as visiting a park or school without knowing a sporting event was underway.

Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

The ASCED is a national standard classification which includes all sectors of the Australian education system, that is, schools, vocational education and training, and higher education. From 2001, ASCED replaced a number of classifications used in administrative and statistical systems, including the ABS Classification of Qualifications (ABSCQ). The ASCED comprises of two classifications: Level of education and Field of education. See Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Avoided situations

Not going or staying away from people or places because of one's disability. Includes all persons with disability, whether they believed they had been discriminated against or not.

Broad area of activity

See Activity.

Capital city/Balance of state

Capital city refers to the Greater Capital City Statistical Area for each state or territory. All other regions within each state or territory are classified as 'balance of state'.

Cared-accommodation

Refers to accommodation within health establishments, such as hospitals, nursing homes, aged care hostels, cared components of retirement villages, psychiatric institutions, and other 'homes', such as group homes for people with disability. The accommodation must include all meals for its occupants and provide 24-hour access to assistance for personal and/or medical needs. To be included in this survey a person must have been a resident, or expected to be a resident, of the cared-accommodation establishment for three months or more.

Carer

See Carers (Appendix).

Carer allowance

Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for individuals providing additional daily care or attention for an adult or child with a disability or medical condition, or for an adult who is frail, that can be paid in addition to wages or other income support payments such as Age Pension or Carer Payment.

Carer payment

Carer Payment provides income support if an individual is unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment, while providing care to a person with a severe disability or severe medical condition.

Child

A person of any age who is a natural, step or foster son or daughter of a couple or lone parent, usually resident in the same household, and who does not have a child or partner of his/her own usually resident in the household.

Cognitive/emotional

This activity comprises the following tasks:

  • making friendships, maintaining relationships, or interacting with others
  • coping with feelings or emotions
  • decision making or thinking through problems
  • managing own behaviour
     

Communication

This activity comprises the following tasks:

  • understanding family or friends
  • being understood by family or friends
  • understanding strangers
  • being understood by strangers
     

Continuous care

Care that is ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months.

Contributing family worker

A person who works without pay in an economic enterprise operated by a relative.

Core activities

Core activities are communication, mobility and self-care.

Core activity limitation

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

The four levels of limitation are:

  • profound - the person is unable to do, or always needs help with, a core activity task
  • severe - the person:
    • sometimes needs help with a core activity task, and/or
    • has difficulty understanding or being understood by family or friends, or
    • can communicate more easily using sign language or other non-spoken forms of communication
       
  • moderate - the person needs no help, but has difficulty with a core activity task
  • mild - the person needs no help and has no difficulty with any of the core activity tasks, but:
    • uses aids or equipment for core tasks, or has one or more of the following limitations
    • cannot easily walk 200 metres
    • cannot walk up and down stairs without a handrail
    • cannot easily bend to pick up an object from the floor
    • cannot use public transport
    • can use public transport, but needs help or supervision
    • needs no help or supervision, but has difficulty using public transport
       

Country of birth

Country of birth is classified to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0).

Deciles

Groupings that result from ranking all households or people in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic, such as their household income, and then dividing the population into ten equal groups, each comprising of approximately 10% of the estimated population.

Dental professional

A specialist in the field of oral hygiene. This includes dentists, dental hygienists and dental specialists such as periodontists, orthodontists, and oral maxillofacial surgeons.

Dependent child/ren/Dependants

All persons aged under 15 years; and people aged 15-24 years who are full-time students, have a parent in the household and do not have a partner or child of their own in the household.

Difficulty (with an activity or task)

The difficulty a respondent experiences in undertaking or completing an activity or task is up to their own interpretation. A person might consider themselves to have difficulty with an activity or task if it takes them longer to complete than other people of the same age, causes pain or discomfort, or is harder for them to do because of their disability or old age.

Disability

In the context of health experience, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It denotes the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual's contextual factors (environment and personal factors).

In this survey, a person has a disability if they report they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities. This includes:

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with, or substitute for, hearing is used
  • speech difficulties
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties causing restriction
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort causing restriction
  • blackouts, seizures, or loss of consciousness
  • difficulty learning or understanding
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers
  • difficulty gripping or holding things
  • incomplete use of feet or legs
  • nervous or emotional condition causing restriction
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work
  • disfigurement or deformity
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision
  • memory problems or periods of confusion causing restriction
  • social or behavioural difficulties causing restriction
  • long-term effects of head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury causing restriction
  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still being restricted
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction
     

Disability group

See Disability groups (Appendix).

Disability rate

The proportion of people with reported disability, in any given population or sub-population (e.g. age group).

Disability specific mobile 'app' (for mobility)

Any application that can enable a smart phone or tablet to be used as a mobility aid. For example, an 'app' that assists people plan journeys by providing information about buildings without ramps or traffic signals without audible signals. Navigation apps such as Google Maps are excluded.

Disability status

The level of specific limitation or restriction experienced by persons with disability. This is determined by the amount of difficulty experienced, the level of assistance needed from another person, or the use of an aid to undertake a particular core activity and/or to participate in education or employment activities.

Discrimination

Refers to persons who felt they had been unfairly considered or treated due to their disability.

Dressing (assistance with)

Includes physical assistance for dressing or undressing activities, such as doing up buttons or zips, putting on socks and shoes, tying shoelaces, etc., including before or after showering or bathing. It also includes advising on appropriate clothing.

Dressing aids

Includes aids that are used to assist in the dressing process such as zip pullers, button hooks and tongs for pulling on clothes.

Eating (assistance with)

This includes the physical aspects of eating, as well as supervising to ensure the food is eaten and nothing harmful is placed in the mouth (e.g. bones) and any washing or clothing adjustments that are needed after eating or feeding. The physical aspects of eating include being seated at the table, serving food, cutting food into pieces and feeding.

Eating aids

Includes any special crockery or cutlery that facilitates eating.

Employed

People who reported that they had worked in a job, business or farm during the reference week (the full week prior to the date of interview); or that they had a job in the reference week, but were not at work.

Employee

A person who works for a public or private employer and receives remuneration in wages, salary, a retainer fee from their employer while working on a commission basis, tips, piece rates, or payment in kind, or a person who operates their own incorporated enterprise with or without hiring employees. In this publication, employee relates to his/her main job.

Employer

A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade, and hires one or more employees.

Employment restriction

An employment restriction is determined for persons with one or more disabilities if, because of their disability, they meet one or more of the following:

  • are permanently unable to work
  • are restricted in the type of work they can or could do
  • need or would need at least one day a week off work on average
  • are restricted in the number of hours they can or could work
  • require or would require an employer to provide special equipment, modify the work environment or make special arrangements
  • require assistance from a disability job placement program or agency
  • need or would need to be given ongoing assistance or supervision
  • would find it difficult to change jobs or get a better job


This information was collected for persons aged 15 years or more with one or more disabilities, living in households.

Episodic care

Refers to care that is only provided during episodes where the condition of the main/only recipient deteriorates, that is, for conditions where the main/only recipient suffers attacks or relapses at intervals (e.g. episodes of schizophrenia, epilepsy, etc.). During these episodes the care provided might be continuous; however, the type of care is classified as episodic as it is not provided on an ongoing basis.

Equivalised household income

There are economic advantages associated with living with others, because household resources, especially housing, can be shared. Equivalising adjusts actual income to take into account the different size and composition of households. Adjustments are made using an equivalence scale. The scale used to calculate equivalised income is the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale. A factor is built up by allocating points to each person in a household. Taking the first adult in the household as having a weight of 1 point, each additional person who is 15 years or older is allocated 0.5 points, and each child under the age of 15 is allocated 0.3 points. The equivalence factor is the sum of the equivalence points allocated to the household members. Equivalised household income can be derived by dividing total household income by the equivalence factor.

Establishment

See cared-accommodation.

Fall-back carer

See Carers (Appendix).

Family

A family is defined as two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering, and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying the presence of either a couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship. Some households will contain more than one family.

Feelings of safety

How safe a person feels in various circumstances (i.e. when home alone during the day, when home alone after dark, or when walking alone through their local area after dark) was reported on a five point scale, from very safe to very unsafe. Never home alone or Never walked alone after dark were provided as possible response categories.

Financial management (assistance with)

Assistance provided to help a person manage their money, including activities such as keeping track of expenses and paying bills.

Formal assistance/providers

Help provided to persons with disability or persons aged 65 years or over by:

  • organisations or individuals representing organisations (whether profit making or non-profit making, government or private); or
  • other persons (excluding family, friends or neighbours as described in Informal assistance/providers), on a regular, paid basis, who are not associated with any organisation
     

Full-time employed

Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours or more a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

Government organisation

A government organisation is controlled by the Federal or state government or by a local authority, such as a council or shire. Any service provided by an employee of a government organisation, such as a public hospital, is considered to be government organised.

Group household

A household consisting of two or more unrelated people where all persons are aged 15 years and over. There is no reported couple relationships, parent-child relationships or other blood relationships in these households.

Health care

This activity comprises:

  • foot care
  • taking medication or administering injections
  • dressing wounds
  • using medical equipment and
  • manipulating muscles or limbs
     

Help

See Assistance.

High technology aids for speaking

This includes aids such as digitised or synthesised speech output systems, or 'apps' on mobile devices.

High technology reading or writing aids

This includes aids such as talking word processors, special computer software and printout systems, or 'apps' on mobile devices.

Highest educational attainment

Highest educational attainment identifies the highest achievement a person has attained in any area of study. It is a ranking of qualifications and other educational attainments regardless of the particular area of study or the type of institution at which the study was undertaken. Highest educational attainment is based on the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Hospital admission

A hospital admission is the formal acceptance by a hospital or other in-patient health care facility of a patient who is to be provided with a room and continuous nursing service. This includes respondents who have been to a hospital emergency department and have also been admitted to hospital.

Hospital emergency department visit

Any time a person went to an emergency department for their own health, whether it was within normal GP practising hours or after hours.

Hours worked

Hours worked was only collected for people who were employed during the reference period. It refers to the number of hours usually worked in all jobs.

Household

A group of two or more related or unrelated people who usually reside in the same dwelling and who make common provision for food and other essentials for living; or a person living in a dwelling who makes provision for his or her own food and other essentials for living without combining with any other person. Thus a household may consist of:

  • one person
  • one family
  • one family and related individual(s)
  • related families with or without unrelated individual(s)
  • unrelated families with or without unrelated individual(s)
  • unrelated individuals


This comprises of people living in private dwellings and self-care retirement units in retirement villages.

Household chores

This activity comprises of a single task 'household chores', examples of which are:

  • laundry
  • vacuuming
  • dusting
     

Impairment

In the context of health experience, an impairment is defined by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as a loss or abnormality in body structure or physiological function (including mental functions). Abnormality is used to refer to a significant variation from established statistical norms.

Examples of an impairment are loss of sight or loss of a limb, disfigurement or deformity, impairment of mood or emotion, impairments of speech, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, and any other lack of function of body organs.

Income

Gross current usual (weekly equivalent) cash receipts that are of a regular and recurring nature, and accrue to individual household members at annual or more frequent intervals, from employment, own business, the lending of assets and transfers from Government, private organisations and other households.

Income unit

One person or a group of related persons within a household, whose command over income is assumed to be shared. Income sharing is assumed to take place within married (registered or de facto) couples, and between parents and dependent children. Some households and families will contain more than one income unit.

Incontinence aids

Include items such as incontinence pads, urinary appliances, incontinence briefs, waterproof pants and specialised bed linen.

Industry

Industry has been classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

Informal assistance/providers

Unpaid help or supervision that is provided to persons with disability or persons aged 65 years and over. It only includes assistance that is provided because of a person's disability or because they are older. Informal assistance may be provided by family, friends or neighbours. For this survey, any assistance received from family or friends was considered to be informal assistance regardless of whether or not the provider was paid, such as through the Carer Payment or other allowances. It does not include providers whose care is privately organised (see Formal assistance/providers).

Kessler psychological distress scale-10 (K10)

The K10 is a non-specific psychological distress scale consisting of 10 questions designed to measure levels of negative emotional states experienced by people in the four weeks prior to interview.

Labour force

For any group, persons who are employed or unemployed, as defined.

Labour force status

A classification of the population aged 15 years or over into employed, unemployed or not in the labour force.

Level of communication limitation

Four levels of communication limitation are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in communicating with others. A person's overall level of communication limitation is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The four levels of limitation are:

  • profound - the person cannot understand or be understood at all. They always need help when communicating with family or friends and people they don't know.
  • severe - the person:
    • communicates more easily with sign language or other non-spoken communication
    • sometimes needs help understanding or being understood by someone they don't know
    • sometimes needs help understanding or being understood by family or friends
    • doesn't need help, but has difficulty understanding or being understood by family or friends.
       
  • moderate - the person doesn't need help, but has difficulty understanding or being understood by someone they don't know, or the interview was conducted in English with difficulty because of communication problems.
  • mild - the person has no difficulty understanding or being understood by someone else, but uses a communication aid.
     

Level of employment restriction

Four levels of employment restrictions are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in their employment. A person's overall level of employment restriction is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The four levels of restriction are:

  • profound - the person's condition permanently prevents them from working
  • severe - the person:
    • requires personal support
    • needs ongoing supervision or assistance
    • requires a special disability support person
    • receives assistance from a disability job placement program or agency
       
  • moderate - the person is restricted in the type of job and/or the numbers of hours they can work or has difficulty in changing jobs
  • mild - the person needs:
    • help from someone at work
    • special equipment
    • modifications to buildings or fittings
    • special arrangements for transport or parking
    • training
    • to be allocated different duties
       

Level of mobility limitation

Four levels of mobility limitation are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in moving around. A person's overall level of mobility limitation is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The four levels of limitation are:

  • profound - the person:
    • does not get out of bed
    • does not move around the residence
    • does not leave home because of their condition
    • always needs help or supervision with:
      • moving around places away from their place of residence
      • moving about their place of residence
      • getting into or out of a bed or chair
         
  • severe - the person sometimes needs help or supervision with:
    • moving around places away from their place of residence
    • moving about their place of residence
    • getting into or out of a bed or chair
       
  • moderate - the person has difficulty, but doesn't need help with:
    • moving around places away from their place of residence
    • moving about their place of residence
    • getting into or out of a bed or chair
       
  • mild - the person doesn't need any help and doesn't have any difficulty with moving around, but:
    • uses a mobility aid
    • cannot easily walk 200 metres or takes longer to do so than most people their age
    • cannot walk up or down stairs without using a handrail
    • cannot easily bend to pick something off the floor
    • cannot use public transport
    • can use public transport, but needs help or supervision
    • needs no help or supervision, but has difficulty using public transport
       

Level of non-school educational restriction

Three levels of non-school educational restrictions are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in their education. A person's overall level of non-school educational restriction is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The three levels of restriction are:

  • severe - the person:
    • receives personal assistance
    • receives special tuition
    • receives assistance from a counsellor/disability support person
       
  • moderate - the person:
    • often needs time off from school/institution
    • has difficulty at school/institution because of their condition(s)
    • has special assessment procedures
       
  • mild - the person needs:
    • a special computer or other special equipment
    • special transport arrangements
    • special access arrangements
    • other special arrangements or support services
       

Level of schooling restriction

Four levels of schooling restrictions are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in their education. A person's overall level of schooling restriction is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The four levels of restriction are:

  • profound - the person's condition prevents them from attending school
  • severe - the person:
    • attends a special school or special classes
    • receives personal assistance
    • receives special tuition
    • receives assistance from a counsellor/disability support person
       
  • moderate - the person:
    • often needs time off from school
    • has difficulty at school because of their condition(s)
    • has special assessment procedures
       
  • mild - the person needs:
    • a special computer or other special equipment
    • special transport arrangements
    • special access arrangements
    • other special arrangements or support services
       

Level of self-care limitation

Four levels of self-care limitation are determined based on whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment in looking after themselves. A person's overall level of self-care limitation is determined by their highest level of limitation in these activities.

The four levels of limitation are:

  • profound - the person always needs help or supervision with:
    • bathing or showering
    • dressing
    • eating
    • toileting
    • managing bladder or bowel control
       
  • severe - the person sometimes needs help or supervision with:
    • bathing or showering
    • dressing
    • eating
    • toileting
    • managing bladder or bowel control
       
  • moderate - the person has difficulty, but doesn't need help with:
    • bathing or showering
    • dressing
    • eating
    • toileting
    • managing bladder or bowel control
       
  • mild - the person:
    • doesn't need any help and doesn't have any difficulty with self-care, but uses an aid
    • does not use the toilet, but does not have difficulty controlling their bladder or bowel
       

Limitation

A person has a limitation if they have difficulty, need assistance from another person, or use an aid or equipment, to do a particular core activity. See Limitations and Restrictions (Appendix) for more detail.

Living in households

A person is included in the 'Living in households' population if they are part of a household and reside in a private dwelling or self-care retirement village. A person living in cared-accommodation is excluded from the 'Living in households' population.

Long-term health condition

A disease or disorder that has lasted, or is likely to last, for six months or more and is current at the time of the survey. The exception to this is a periodic or episodic condition (e.g. asthma, epilepsy or schizophrenia, where people suffer attacks or relapses at irregular intervals) where the attack or relapse has occurred in the last 12 months. Conditions that had not occurred in the last 12 months because they had been controlled by medication were also included. Long-term health conditions were coded to a classification based on the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10).

Low technology reading or writing aids

Non-electronic aids such as picture boards, symbol boards or large print books.

Low technology speaking aids

Non-electronic aids such as picture boards, symbol boards or letter/word boards.

Main condition

A long-term health condition identified by a person as the one causing the most problems. Where only one long-term health condition is reported, this is recorded as the main long-term health condition.

Main job

The job in which a person usually works the most hours.

Main language spoken at home

The main language spoken by a person in his/her home, on a regular basis, to communicate with other residents of the home and regular visitors to the home.

Main recipient of care

Where a primary carer is caring for more than one person, the main recipient of care is the one receiving the most help or supervision. A sole recipient is also classed as a main recipient. The assistance has to be ongoing, or likely to be ongoing, for at least six months and be provided for one or more of the core activities of communication, mobility and self-care.

Meal preparation

Includes preparing ingredients and cooking food.

Meal preparation aids

Includes items such as cutting aids, opening aids and cooking aids.

Median

That value which divides the population into two equal parts, one half having values lower and one half having values higher than the median.

Medical aids

This includes items such as home ventilators or respirators, parenteral or enteral feeding devices, oxygen concentrators, heart pumps, suction pumps, apnoea monitors, nebulisers, positive airways pressure devices, insulin pumps, phototherapy equipment, blood glucose monitors, and blood pressure monitors.

Medical specialist

Medical specialists provide services which are covered, at least in part, by Medicare (e.g. dermatologists, cardiologists, neurologists and gynaecologists). When respondents were asked if they had seen a medical specialist, this also included whether they had seen a specialist due to obtaining a referral from another specialist, as well as ongoing referrals.

Mild core activity limitation

See Core activity limitation.

Mobility

This activity comprises the following tasks:

  • getting into or out of a bed or chair
  • moving about the usual place of residence
  • going to or getting around a place away from the usual residence
  • walking 200 metres
  • walking up and down stairs without a handrail
  • bending and picking up an object from the floor
  • using public transport
     

Moderate core activity limitation

See Core activity limitation.

Multiple response items

There are a number of data items that contain multiple responses, which means that the person being interviewed was able to select one or more response categories for these items. Multiple response items are indicated on the Data Item List.

NDIS

National Disability Insurance Scheme. Further information can be found here: http://www.ndis.gov.au/

Need for assistance

A person with one or more disabilities, or aged 65 years and over, is identified as having a need for assistance with an activity if, because of their disability or age, they report that they need help or supervision with at least one of the specified tasks constituting that activity. Need is not identified if the help or supervision is required because the person has not learned, or has not been accustomed to performing that activity. The person is considered to need assistance whether or not assistance is actually received.

Non-core activities

These include cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, meal preparation, reading or writing, household chores, property maintenance and transport.

Non-core specific restriction

A restriction in employment and/or schooling.

Non-personal activities

These include meal preparation, reading or writing, household chores, property maintenance and transport.

Non-personal assistance

This refers to assistance relating to non-personal activities.

Non-school qualification

Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. They include qualifications at the Post Graduate Degree level, Master Degree level, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate level, Bachelor Degree level, Advanced Diploma and Diploma level, and Certificates I, II, III and IV levels. Non-school qualifications may be attained concurrently with school qualifications.

Not in the labour force

Persons who were not employed or unemployed.

Occupation

Older person

In this survey, older person refers to a person aged 65 years and over. Information on health and well-being, internet use, social and community participation, feelings of safety and the need for and receipt of assistance for household chores, property maintenance, meal preparation, reading and writing tasks, and transport activities is available from the survey for persons aged 65 years and over, regardless of whether they have a disability or not.

Organisation or group

Anybody with a formal structure. It may be as large as a national charity or as small as a local book club. Informal and temporary gatherings of people do not constitute an organisation or group, in this survey.

Other carer

See Carers (Appendix).

Other hearing aid(s)

This includes aids such as hearing dogs, light signals, or a teletypewriter (TTY) phone or loop.

Own account worker

A person who operates his or her own unincorporated economic enterprise or engages independently in a profession or trade and hires no employees.

Part-time employed

Employed persons who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work during the reference week.

Participation rate

In the context of labour force statistics, the participation rate for any group is the number of persons in the labour force (i.e. employed persons plus unemployed persons) expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over in the same group. In this publication, the population is restricted to persons aged 15 to 64 years.

Partner

A person in a couple relationship with another person usually resident in the same household. The couple relationship may be in either a registered or de facto marriage and includes same-sex couples.

Personal activities/tasks

These include mobility, self-care, communication, health care and cognitive or emotional tasks.

Physical activity for sport, exercise or recreation

This refers to the undertaking of a physical task or action for the purpose of sport, exercise or recreation. Excludes incidental activities to get from place to place, walking or cycling out of necessity, gardening and household chores, shopping, physical activity that was done as part of work duties, and compulsory physical activity organised by a school.

Primary carer

See Carers (Appendix).

Primary Health Networks (PHNs)

There are 31 PHNs which each represent a geographical area. The PHNs are independent organisations with regions closely aligned with state and territory Local Hospital Networks or equivalent. The PHNs are designed to integrate and coordinate health services and have the overarching objectives of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services and improve coordination of care. The PHNs began operation on 1 July 2015 replacing the 61 Medicare Local regions.

Private commercial organisation

Any commercial business or self-employed person who provides goods or services at a market rate, in order to achieve a profit. People using the services of these organisations may be entitled to monetary assistance from a government source, such as through a rebate or concession. In these cases, we still consider that the service has been provided by a private commercial organisation.

Private dwellings

Houses, flats, home units, garages, tents and other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey.

Private non-profit organisation

Any organisation where the business does not operate for the profit or gain of its individual members. A non-profit organisation can still make a profit, but this profit must be used to carry out its purposes and must not be distributed to owners, members or other private people. These organisations are still considered private in nature, even if they receive funding from a government source.

Proficiency in spoken English

A self assessment by persons who speak a language other than English at home, of whether they speak English very well, well, not well, or not at all.

Profound core activity limitation

See Core activity limitation.

Property maintenance

This activity includes light maintenance and gardening tasks, such as:

  • changing light bulbs, tap washers
  • making minor home repairs
  • mowing lawns, watering, pruning shrubs, light weeding, planting
  • removing rubbish
     

Proxy

A proxy is a person aged 15 years and over who answers the survey questions on behalf of someone who has been selected for interview. A proxy interview may be conducted:

  • when the selected person is less than 15 years of age, or
  • when the selected person is aged 15-17 years and parental consent to interview them personally has not been provided, or
  • due to the selected person's illness, injury or language difficulties
     

Public dental care

Any public dental service that is partly or fully funded by the government, including public dental services provided at a private dental clinic.

Qualification

Formal certification, issued by a relevant approved body, in recognition that a person has achieved learning outcomes or competencies relevant to identified individual, professional, industry or community needs. Statements of attainment awarded for partial completion of a course of study at a particular level are excluded.

Quintiles

Groupings that result from ranking all households or people in the population in ascending order according to some characteristic such as their household income and then dividing the population into five equal groups, each comprising of approximately 20% of the estimated population.

Reading or writing

This activity includes tasks such as:

  • checking bills or bank statements
  • writing letters
  • filling in forms
     

Receipt of assistance

Applicable to persons with one or more disabilities, or aged 65 years and over, who needed help or supervision with at least one of the specified tasks comprising an activity. The source of assistance may be informal or formal, but does not include assistance from the use of aids or equipment.

Recipient

Person who receives help or supervision with everyday activities because of their age or disability.

Registered marital status

Whether a person has, or has had, a registered marriage with another person. Accordingly, people are classified as either 'never married', 'married', 'widowed' or 'divorced'.

Remoteness

The ABS has defined Remoteness within the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Remoteness Areas (RAs) divide Australia into broad geographic regions that share common characteristics of remoteness for statistical purposes. There are six classes of RA in the Remoteness Structure: Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia, Outer Regional Australia, Remote Australia, Very Remote Australia and Migratory.

RAs are based on the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) produced by the Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research at the University of Adelaide. The Remoteness Structure is explained in detail in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure.

Respite care

A service which gives carers a short-term break by providing alternative care arrangements for elderly people, or people with disability. Respite care may be provided at home or away from home, during the day, overnight, or for longer periods of time.

Restriction (education or employment)

A person has an education or employment restriction if he/she has difficulty participating, needs assistance from another person or uses an aid or equipment in schooling or employment. See Limitation and Restrictions (Appendix) for more detail.

Satisfaction (with quality of services received or range of service options available)

A person's satisfaction is left up to their own interpretation. A person can choose from the options of: satisfied; neither satisfied or dissatisfied; or dissatisfied.

Schooling restriction

A schooling restriction is determined for persons aged 5 to 20 years who have one or more disabilities if, because of their disability, they:

  • are unable to attend school
  • attend a special school
  • attend special classes at an ordinary school
  • need at least one day a week off school on average
  • have difficulty at school
     

Section of State (SOS)

This geographical classification aggregates Urban Centre/Localities (UCLs) on the basis of population ranges i.e. all UCLs in a State/Territory within a particular population range are combined into a single SOS. The SOS categories comprise Major Urban (represents a combination of all Urban Centres with a population of 100,000 or more), Other Urban (represents a combination of all Urban Centres with a population between 1,000 and 99,999), Bounded Locality (a combination of all Bounded Localities) and Rural Balance (the remainder of State/Territory). For more information, refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 4 - Significant Urban Areas, Urban Centres and Localities, Section of State, July 2016 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.004).

Self-care

This activity comprises the following tasks:

  • showering or bathing
  • dressing
  • eating
  • toileting
  • bladder or bowel control
     

Self-care retirement units

Independent living units in retirement villages. Excludes aged care facilities such as nursing homes and components of retirement villages where residents do not live independently.

Service does not provide sufficient hours

This includes both cases where the person didn't receive any hours and where they received some hours, but not as many as were required from the service.

Severe core activity limitation

See Core activity limitation.

Showering or bathing

Showering or bathing is defined as getting in and out of the shower or bath, turning on/off taps in the shower or bath, washing, drying and having a bed-bath. It excludes dressing and undressing. 

Showering or bathing aids

This includes items such as shower chairs, hoists, shower or bath rails and special shower fittings.

Sign language

This includes all recognised sign languages. Two sign languages used in Australia are Auslan, used by people with hearing difficulties and Makaton, used by people with speech, language or learning difficulties.

Social marital status

The relationship status of an individual in terms of whether she or he forms a couple relationship with another person living in the same usual residence, and the nature of that relationship. A marriage exists when two people live together as husband and wife, or partners, regardless of whether the marriage is formalised through registration. Individuals are, therefore, regarded as married if they are in a de facto marriage, or if they are living with the person to whom they are registered as married. Note: married de facto also includes persons who report de facto, partner, common law husband/wife/spouse, lover, girlfriend or boyfriend.

The term 'not married', as used in this classification, means neither a registered nor a de facto marriage. This includes persons who live alone, with other family members, and those in shared accommodation.

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)

SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. The ABS has developed four indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas, providing a method of determining the level of social and economic well-being in each region.

Each of the indexes summarise different aspects of the socio-economic status of the people living in those areas. The index refers to the attributes of the area (Statistical Area Level 1) in which a person lives, not to the socio-economic situation of a particular individual. The index used in this publication was compiled following the 2016 Census. For further information about the SEIFAs, see Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) 2016 (cat. no. 2033.0.55.001).

The four indexes are:

  • Index of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage: includes attributes such as households with low incomes and people with a tertiary education.
  • Index of relative socio-economic disadvantage: includes attributes such as low income, low educational attainment and high unemployment.
  • Index of economic resources: includes attributes such as income and housing expenditure.
  • Index of education and occupation: includes attributes relating to the educational and occupational characteristics of communities, like the proportion of people with a higher qualification or those employed in a skilled occupation
     

Special classes

Classes held only for children with disability, which are conducted within a conventional school. This may include classes for deaf students, or for children with specific learning difficulties.

Special interest group

A group which is focussed around an area of mutual interest to the participants.

Special support person

Someone providing personal support within the workplace, which enables someone with disability to undertake their work. This support is generally beyond the level available to employees without disability and may include help with self-care, interpreting others, or providing intensive supervision.

Specially modified car or car aid(s)

Car aids or modifications include - extra support handles, extra fittings to support disabled passengers, modifications to accommodate wheelchairs, modifications to appropriately restrain a disabled passenger and modifications to accommodate disabled drivers.

Specific limitation or restriction

A limitation in core activities, or a restriction in schooling or employment. This corresponds with the concept of 'handicap' used in previous ABS publications on disability. See Limitations and Restrictions (Appendix).

Statistical significance

Differences between population estimates are said to be statistically significant when it can be stated with 95% confidence that there is a real difference between the populations. See Technical Note - Reliability of estimates for more information.

Supervised activity program

Places where people can participate in supervised activities such as craft work, or programs that simply provide a place where people can meet others in similar situations, or just to allow them to spend some time away from home in a safe, supervised environment. These programs do not provide work, education or training.

Some examples of supervised activity programs include:

  • day care programs for frail older people, often held at senior citizen clubs
  • early intervention programs for children with developmental disabilities
  • special activity programs for young people with disability
     

Supervision

Includes being watched over or directed during a task because of a person's disability or old age. For example, people with an intellectual disability may need supervision in dressing to ensure they dress correctly, rather than help with the physical aspects of dressing.

Task

A task is a component of an activity and represents the specific level at which information was collected.

Tenure type

The source of the legal right of a person to occupy a dwelling. Type of tenure may be:

  • owner without a mortgage
  • owner with a mortgage
  • Life tenure scheme
  • participant of rent/buy (or shared equity) scheme
  • renter
  • assists with expenses
  • rent-free
  • other
     

Toileting aids

Includes the use of aids such as commodes, toilet frames, toilet chairs and any other aids, such as bedpans and urine bottles, used by people who find it difficult to move to the toilet.

Toileting

Any aspect of moving in and out of the toilet, including adjusting clothes and washing hands. It also includes any aspect of using a toileting aid, such as bedpans, urine bottles, and other toileting aids.

Transport

A single task activity referring to private transport, including going to places away from the usual place of residence. Need for assistance and difficulty are defined for this activity as the need to be driven and difficulty going to places without help or supervision.

Unable to arrange service

This includes people who didn't know how to arrange help and those who were unable to communicate their need for assistance.

Unconfirmed primary carer

See Carers (Appendix).

Underemployed

A person is considered underemployed if they:

  • are employed,
  • usually work 34 hours or less per week,
  • would like a job with more hours, and
  • are available to start work with more hours if offered a job in the next four weeks
     

In this survey, the definition of 'underemployed' excludes persons employed full-time who worked only part-time hours in the reference week for economic reasons (e.g. through being stood down or due to insufficient work available).

Unemployed

Persons aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the reference week, and:

  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week
  • were available for work in the reference week
     

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate for any group is the number of unemployed persons in that group expressed as a percentage of the labour force (i.e. employed persons plus unemployed persons) in the same group.

Unmet need

A person's need for assistance is unmet if they do not receive assistance, or require more assistance than is currently being received, for one or more of the activities where assistance is needed.

Urgent medical care

The term urgent was left to the respondent's interpretation. If the respondent sought clarification, interviewers were instructed to include health issues that arose suddenly and were serious (e.g. fever, headache, vomiting, unexplained rash).

Voluntary work

The provision of unpaid help willingly undertaken in the form of time, service or skills, to an organisation or group, excluding work done overseas. Some forms of unpaid work, such as student placements or work under a Community Service Order, that were not strictly voluntary have been excluded.

Quality declaration - summary

Institutional environment

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.

Relevance

The 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) collected information in order to:

  • measure the prevalence of disability in Australia
  • measure the need for support of older people and those with disability
  • estimate the number of and provide information about people who provide care to older people and people with disabilities
  • provide a demographic and socio-economic profile of people with disabilities, older people, and carers compared with the general population


For detailed information about the data items collected refer to the Data Item List on the Data downloads section.

Information from the SDAC will be used by a wide range of public and private sector agencies, in particular the Department of Health, Department of Social Services, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Disability Insurance Agency, the Productivity Commission and state and territory government departments with responsibility for planning support services for older people, people with disability, and carers.

Timeliness

The 2018 SDAC is the ninth national survey, following similar surveys in 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2012 and 2015. The SDAC was conducted in two parts: the cared-accommodation component, which ran from June to August 2018, and the household component, which ran from July 2018 to March 2019.

A summary of findings, including a broad set of tables in spreadsheet format was available on the ABS website on 24 October 2019.

Subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints, a series of tables in spreadsheet format will be produced for each state and territory and will be released in early 2020.

For individuals who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the SDAC data, detailed microdata was released on 24 October 2019. A basic Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) and TableBuilder product will be released, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician.

Accuracy

The 2018 SDAC was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and at the state level for each of the funding states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia).

The sample for the household component was selected at random using a multi-stage area sample of addresses from the ABS's Address Register. The sample for the cared-accommodation component was selected from in-scope health establishments from the Address Register. The sample consisted of approximately 31,000 private dwellings and 1,200 health establishments. After sample loss and non-response, the final sample achieved included approximately 21,900 private dwellings and 1,100 health establishments.

Estimates in this publication are subject to both sampling and non-sampling errors. Sampling error is the error associated with taking a sample of dwellings rather than going to all dwellings in Australia. In this publication the sampling error is measured by the relative standard error (RSE), which is the standard error expressed as a percentage of the estimate, and the margin of error (MoE), which describes the distance from the population value that the sample estimate is likely to be within for a given level of confidence. Non-sampling errors can occur in any data collection, whether based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include:

  • non-response
  • errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers
  • errors in coding or processing of data.


Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of questions, training interviewers, follow-up of respondents and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.

Estimates, RSEs and MOEs in this publication have been assessed to ensure the confidentiality of individuals and dwellings contributing to the survey. Estimates in this publication have been randomly adjusted using the statistical process of perturbation to ensure confidentiality of respondents. In most cases, perturbation will have only a small impact on the estimate, while ensuring the information value of the published data as a whole is not impaired.

Coherence

Results from the five previous household surveys on this topic were published in:

Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015 (cat. no. 4430.0)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2003 (cat. no. 4430.0)
Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 1998 (cat. no. 4430.0)

Data from the first three disability surveys (1981, 1988 and 1993) can be obtained by contacting the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

Most of the content of the nine disability surveys conducted by the ABS is comparable. There are differences, however, as more recent surveys have tried to get better coverage of disability and of specific tasks and activities previously thought to be too sensitive for a population survey.

Only a small number of minor changes were made to the content between the 2018 and 2015 SDAC.

For further information on the comparability of data items between SDAC 2015 and 2018 and new 2018 data items see the 2018 SDAC Data Item List.

Interpretability

This publication contains tables and a summary of findings to assist with the interpretation of the results of the survey. Detailed Methodology, a Technical Note on Reliability of Estimates and a Glossary are also included, providing information on the terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.

Accessibility

Estimates and associated RSEs and MoEs for proportions are available in Excel spreadsheets, which can be accessed from the Data downloads section. Subject to standard error and confidentiality constraints, a series of tables will be produced for each state and territory. These tables will be available from the ABS website in early 2020.

Detailed microdata was released on the ABS website on 24 October 2019. It is expected that a TableBuilder and a basic CURF will be produced from the SDAC, subject to the approval of the Australian Statistician. Organisations will be able to register for access to the basic CURF in early 2020. For further details, refer to the Microdata Entry Page on the ABS website.

Special tabulations of SDAC data are available on request for a fee. Tabulations can be produced from the survey subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints.

Abbreviations

Show all

Abbreviations
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ANZSCOAustralian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations
ANZSICAustralian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
ARAddress Register
ARAAny responsible adult
ARIAAccessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia
ASCEDAustralian Standard Classification of Education
ASGSAustralian Statistical Geography Standard
CURFConfidentialised unit record file
DVADepartment of Veterans' Affairs
ERPEstimated resident population
G-NAFGeo-Coded National Address File
GPGeneral practitioner
GCCSAGreater capital city statistical areas
HPsHealth professionals
ICD-10International Classification of Diseases: 10th Revision
ICFInternational Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
K10Kessler Psychological Distress Scale
LGALocal Government Areas
MOEMargin of error
NDISNational Disability Insurance Scheme
necNot elsewhere classified
nfdNot further defined
OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
PEXPatient experience
RSERelative standard error
SA1Statistical Area 1
SA2Statistical Area 2
SA4Statistical Area 4
SDACSurvey of Disability, Ageing and Carers
SEStandard error
SEIFASocio-economic indexes for areas
SOSSection of state
SMSShort Message Service
TAFETechnical and Further Education
UCLsUrban Centre/Localities
URUsual resident
VOIPVoice over Internet Protocol