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Australians with disability are still significantly more likely to report having poor health than those without disability, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Health status and risk factors of Australians with disability 2007–08 and 2011–12, shows that in 2011–12, half (51%) of Australians aged 15–64 with severe or profound disability (that is, sometimes or always needing personal help with activities of self-care, mobility or communication) rated their health as 'poor or fair', compared with 6% for those without disability.

'In 2007–08, 45% of that same group rated their health as 'poor or fair', compared with 5% for those without disability', said AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury.

In 2011–12, people aged 15-64 with severe or profound disability were twice as likely to smoke daily (31% for those with severe or profound disability versus 15% for those without disability) and 1.8 times as likely to start daily smoking before the age of 18 (41% versus 23%).

Almost half reported doing no physical exercise (46% of people with severe or profound disability, versus 31% for those without disability) and they were 1.7 times as likely as those without disability to be obese.

This group also had a higher prevalence of various types of long-term health conditions, and were 3.3 times as likely as those without disability to have 3 or more long-term health conditions (74% versus 23%).

'Half of people under 65 with severe or profound disability had mental health conditions, compared with 8% for those without disability', said Mr Cooper-Stanbury.

Additionally, among people aged under 65 with a mental health condition, those with severe or profound disability were more likely than those without disability to acquire a mental health condition before the age of 25 (39% versus 28%).

People aged under 65 with severe or profound disability were 4 times as likely as those without disability to have arthritis. Among people aged under 65 with arthritis, half (49%) of those with severe or profound disability acquired the condition before the age of 45, compared with 37% for those without disability.

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, 25th February 2016

Further information:  Mr Mark Cooper-Stanbury, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1251, mob. 0418 271 395

Full report: Health status and risk factors of Australians with a disability 2007–08 and 2011–12