Disability support services recipients getting older

Australians receiving disability support services are getting older, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Disability support services 2000: national data on services provided under the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement shows that the average age of people who receive accommodation services has increased from 36 years in 1996 to 39 years in 2000. The average age increased for people with disabilities living in institutions, hostels and group homes.

Co-author of the report, Phil Anderson, said the 20-29 year age group were the most frequent users of open employment services for people with a disability and community access services, such as continuing education.

'However, this peak has noticeably declined between 1996 and 2000 where there was a corresponding increase in some of the older age groups,' Dr Anderson said.

The report shows that governments provided or funded 75,000 disability services to over 62,000 Australians, under the Commonwealth/State Disability Agreement (CSDA) on a 'snapshot' day in May-June 2000. The total expenditure on disability support services by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments under this agreement in 1999-00 was $2.2 billion.

Approximately 7,400 outlets are funded under the CSDA to provide services.

Of all people receiving services, one-third (21,104) were in Victoria. New South Wales had the second highest number (16,441), followed by Queensland (8,324) and Western Australia (8,004).

Of people receiving services in 2000:

58% were men;

3% were of Indigenous origin;

49% had more than one disability;

60% were reported to have intellectual disability as their most significant disability; and

16% received more than one service on the 'snapshot' day.

Children aged 9 years and under were the most likely of all age groups to use community support services. There was little change in the age of people using these services, although the average age of clients using therapy services fell from about 17 in 1996 to 12 in 2000.


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