188,000 use Commonwealth State/Territory funded disability services

Around 188,000 Australians used disability support services funded under the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement in 2003-04, a new report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found.

Disability Support Services 2003-04 shows that the 188,000 users of disability support services accessed services provided by nearly 9,000 service type outlets nation-wide. This is the first time that data has been available on all disability services over a full financial year.

There were five main service type groupings provided by these outlets, including employment services, and accommodation support, community support, community access and respite services.

Of these service types, community support services (including therapy support, and early childhood intervention and case management) were the most widely accessed (42% of all service users).

About one-third of service users accessed more than one service type outlet over the 12-month period. The most common combination of services accessed was that of accommodation support and community access services (including learning and life skills development).

In other findings, the majority of service users were male, constituting 59% of all users, while 3.5% of users were identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

The most commonly reported primary disability group was intellectual disability, reported by 45% of all service users, followed by physical (13%) and psychiatric disabilities (8%).

For service users aged 16 years or more, the Disability Support Pension was the primary source of income for 62%, followed by paid employment (9%) and other pensions or benefits (9%).

Report co-author Tim Beard said that just over two-fifths (42%) of service users reported having an informal carer.

In 69% of these cases the informal carer was the mother of the service user, and in 6% of cases it was the service-user's father. Of the 57,815 informal carers whose age group was collected, 6,472 (11%) were aged 65 years or more.

A total of $3.3 billion was spent by governments in 2003-04 on services provided under the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement.

5 August 2005

Further information: Mr Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1270; or (mob): 0407 915 851.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel 61 2 6244 1032.