Department of Social Services – Australia’s Disability Strategy Survey – Share with us

Data custodian/owner Department of Social Services (DSS)


Collection frequency

2–3 yearly

Latest data


Description of data source

The Australia’s Disability Strategy Survey – Share with us (the ADS Survey) is conducted by the Australian National University Centre for Social Research and Methods in partnership with the Social Research Centre, on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

The Survey collects information from four target populations:

  • general community (all respondents)
  • those who make hiring decisions at the workplace
  • those who work in the health, community services, education, and law and justice sectors
  • those with disability or health conditions.

The Survey identifies the presence of disability or a restrictive long-term health condition in 2 ways:

  1. The Survey uses a version of the ABS Short Disability Module (SDM)1 to identify the presence of disability or a long-term health condition. Disability or a restrictive long-term health condition is defined as having at least one condition which restricts everyday activities, for at least 6 months.
  2. The Survey also asks people who were identified to have disability or a long-term health condition via SDM whether they have any disability or a long-term health condition. Not all people identified to have disability via SDM consider that they have disability.
Disability types

The Survey collects data on particular types of disability and long-term conditions and whether they restrict everyday activities. For ADS OF reporting purposes, the following 6 disability groups are derived:

  • sensory and speech
  • intellectual
  • physical restriction
  • psychosocial
  • head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury (ABI)
  • other.

People may have more than one type of disability. In reporting by disability groups, people could be counted more than once if they have disabilities from more than one disability group.

Severity of disability

The Survey classifies disability according to the degree of limitation or impairment in core activities (self-care, mobility, and communication) and in tasks such as walking 200 metres, bending to pick something up from the floor, or using public transport. The ADS OF reports on outcomes of people with severe and/or profound disability, as well as outcomes of people with other disability status (people with disability who have disability status other than severe or profound).


Age refers to the age of a person on their last birthday.


The Survey asks respondents about their current gender, which may be different from sex at birth or gender on legal documents. Information on gender is collected for all persons as ‘Man or male’, ‘Woman or female’, ‘Non-binary’, or ‘Different term (please specify)’. Respondents can also skip the question, or select ‘Not sure’ or ‘Prefer not to answer’.

Sexual orientation

The Survey collects information on sexual orientation as ‘Straight (heterosexual)’, ‘Gay or lesbian’, ‘Bisexual’, or ‘Different term (please specify)’. Respondents can also skip the question, or select ‘Not sure’ or ‘Prefer not to answer’.

Indigenous status

Indigenous status is voluntarily self-reported based on the ABS Indigenous Status Standard.2 The term ‘First Nations people’ is used to refer to survey respondents who have identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin during the data collection process.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

The Survey collects information on country of birth and main language other than English spoken at home (if any). This information is used to derive Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) status for reporting against the ADS OF measures.

The CALD cohort includes people born in countries other than main English-speaking countries (Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland, and South Africa), and/or those who speak a language other than English at home. People born in main English-speaking countries who mainly speak English at home, and/or those who are nonverbal, use Auslan at home, or speak an Australian Indigenous language at home are included in the non-CALD cohort.

Carer status

The Survey respondents are classified as carers if, in the 2 weeks before the Survey, they provided care to others due to disability, a long-term health condition, or problems related to old age. This care could be (a) paid by their employer, and/or (b) unpaid (including recipients of Carer Payment or Carer Allowance but excluding volunteer work). This website presents data on carer status in 4 categories:

  • Paid carer (only)
  • Unpaid carer (only)
  • Both paid and unpaid carer (for instance, if respondent is paid by their employer to provide care to a client, and also provides unpaid care to a family member)
  • Not a carer.
Geographic information

The Survey uses Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA)3 to classify respondents’ location. The ADS OF reports on outcomes of people who live in the greater capital city areas, and those who live in the rest of the state/territory.


Data are available at the national and state levels. For smaller states and territories, some data may be limited due to standard error and confidentiality constraints.

Measures reported
  1. The ABS Short Disability Module has been found to overestimate the number of people with less severe forms of disability. For more information, see 4431.0.55.002 - ABS Sources of Disability Information, 2012 - 2016.
  2. The ABS Indigenous Status Standard can be found at Indigenous Status Standard, 2014, Version 1.5 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (
  3. Further information on the geographic classification used by this data source can be found at Greater Capital City Statistical Areas | Australian Bureau of Statistics (