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In 2012-13, an estimated 312,539 Australians accessed disability support services, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2012-13, presents information on the use of community support services (45% of service users), employment services (41%), community access services (18%), accommodation support services (14%) and respite services (12%).

'The report provides important contextual and baseline information as the disability policy and service delivery environment continues to evolve, particularly with the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013-14,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.  

The number of service users generally increased over the 5 years to 2012-13-by 12% between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

'However, we've seen growth in the use of services slow recently, with a slight drop of 2% in the number of service users between 2011-12 and 2012-13,' Dr Kinnear said.  

'This change in the number of service users was not evenly spread across jurisdictions or service groups and reflected both an actual decrease in service users in some jurisdictions and some changes in the way the data were collected or reported.'

Users of disability support services are diverse. In 2012-13, 59% were male, 87% were Australian-born, 6% were Indigenous Australians, and 54% lived with their families.

The most commonly reported disability groups continued to be intellectual (32%), physical (30%) and psychiatric (27%), though the proportion of service users with an intellectual disability dropped slightly over the 5 years to 2012-13.

Most service users required at least some assistance in one or more of three broad life areas- the activities of independent living (64%); the activities of work, education and community living (61%) and the activities of daily living (55%).

The report also shows that spending on disability support services rose to $7.2 billion in 2012-13. This has risen in recent years-by 4% between 2011-12 and 2012-13, and by 23% since 2008-09, after adjusting for inflation.

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, 4 July 2014

Further information: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

Full publication: Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2012-13