The number of people using disability support services in Australia has increased by 24% over the past four years, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report, Disability Support Services 2006-07, showed that 232,000 people used disability support services in 2006-07, up from 188,000 in 2003-04.
'This is an average annual growth rate of 7%,' said Tim Beard of the AIHW's Functioning and Disability Unit.
'The largest increases over the past four years were seen in respite care (46%), community support (25%) and employment services (25%),' he said.
Community support services, such as therapy, early intervention and case management, were the most commonly used services over the last four years.
Most of the growth in employment services occurred in open employment services, which tend to be used by people with less severe disability than those who use supported employment services.
Accommodation support services accounted for 16% of all service users in 2006-07.
'Almost half of all people using services four years ago continued to receive support in 2006-07, making it a very stable service user group, Mr Beard said.
Intellectual disability was the most common primary disability (accounting for around 1 in 3 service users), followed by psychiatric disability then physical disability.
The proportion of disability service users who always need help with basic activities such as mobility, self-care and communication has remained stable over the past four years.
'However, there are now more people who need help in areas such as learning, household chores, and fostering social interactions,' Mr Beard said.
In 2006-07, about 68% of service users report needing help with activities of independent living, 63% with work, education and community living and almost 60% with daily living activities.
The Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) aims to improve the quality of life of people with disability by providing a wide array of services such as accommodation support, community support, community access, respite, and employment services