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Older Australians are living longer and, on average, getting more years of life without severe or profound limitations to their basic daily activities, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Changes in life expectancy and disability in Australia 1998 to 2009, shows that between 1998 and 2009, life expectancy at birth has risen from 75.9 years to 79.3 years for males, and from 81.5 years to 83.9 years for females, and almost all of this increase is disability-free years.

'Australian boys born in 2009 could expect to live an average 61.6 years without disability and another 17.7 years with disability, including 5.5 years with severe or profound activity limitation,' said AIHW spokesperson Brent Diverty.

Compared to the boys, Australian girls could expect to live longer and live more years with and without disability.

'Girls born in 2009 could expect to live an average 64.3 years without disability and 19.6 years with disability, including 7.5 years with severe or profound activity limitation.'

Australians already aged 65 in 2009 could expect to live longer without severe or profound activity limitations.

Males at 65 years could expect to live an additional 8.2 years without disability, and 10.5 years with disability (3.5 years with severe disability), and females could expect an additional 9.7 without disability and another 12.1 with disability (5.6 years with severe disability).

'The "downside", if you like, to Australians living longer, is that as the population ages there is expected to be more older Australians living with disability,' Mr Diverty said

'We expect to see an increasing number of older people in the community with disability and severe or profound activity limitation.

'But it is important to remember that disability does not necessarily equate to poor health or illness.'

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 23 November 2012

Further information: Mr Brent Diverty, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob.  0407 915 851

Full publication: Changes in life expectancy and disability in Australia 1998 to 2009