One in 100 use disability support services

Approximately 217,000 Australians, or 1 in every 100 people, access disability support services with service users most likely to be males aged around 30 years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Disability Support Services 2005-06 report presents information collected from over 9,000 service outlets throughout Australia funded under an agreement between the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments.

The services aim to improve the quality of life of people with disability by providing support and assistance across a range of life activities.

Approximately 58% of all service users were male. The median age of services users was 31 years-higher for females (35 years) than males (29 years). Over half (56%) of service users aged 16 years and over reported the Disability Support Pension as their main source of income.

Around 45% of all service users accessed community support services such as therapy, early childhood intervention and case management, while over one-third (34%) used employment services. Around one-quarter (26%) of service users accessed more than one service type.

Intellectual disability was most commonly reported by service users as their primary disability (33%), followed by psychiatric disability (14%), and physical disability (12%).

Report co-author Tim Beard said the complex and diverse needs of service users is shown by their multiple disabilities-over one-third reported more than one disability group.

'Service users with autism, for example - 8% of the service user group -also showed a strong tendency to report intellectual disability in particular, but also speech and neurological disabilities,' Mr Beard noted.

'This group, when compared with the general service user group, were much younger (median age of 16 years), much more likely to be male (80%) and in need of a greater level of support across all life areas.'

Indigenous service users comprised about 1 in 30 users (3.3%). These service users were also much younger than other users (median age of 25 years), and more likely than others to report multiple disability groups.

Close to half (45%) of all service users reported having a carer-in the majority of these cases (59%) the carer was the service user's mother.

26 October 2007

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.