People using disability support services also supported by unpaid carers

A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows a diverse range of people with varied needs use Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) funded services, but that many of those people also receive care from unpaid relatives.

The report, Disability support services 2004-05: national data on services provided under the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement, was compiled using information from the 2004-05 CSTDA National Minimum Data Set collection, and includes information about the characteristics of people accessing CSTDA-funded services and the services they receive.

Mr Tim Beard of the Institute's Functioning and Disability Unit said there were just over 200,000 people from a wide range of disability groups accessing disability support services in 2004-05.

'Over 40% of service users reported intellectual disability as one of their disability groups, 25% reported a physical disability and an additional 15% reported a neurological disability.

'Significant numbers reported always needing help with life activities-ranging from mobility (14%) to working (24%),' Mr Beard said.

The report noted wide use of CSTDA-funded services, with community support services (such as therapy, early intervention, counselling, and case management) being the most widely accessed. Employment services and community access (including day programs and recreation) were also commonly used.

Nearly 30% of service users accessed multiple services during the year, and the most commonly combined services were for accommodation support and community access.

'The report found that while many needs were addressed through disability support services, much of the help people received still came in the form of unpaid care from family or friends.

'Most of those carers were mothers (68%) followed by fathers (7%) and other female relatives (6%),' Mr Beard said.

Almost three quarters of service users under 15 years of age had an informal carer, and one in eight carers were aged over 65 years.

31 August 2006

Further information: Mr Tim Beard, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1270, or mob. 0418 271 395

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