Large increase in number of Australians using disability support services

The number of people using disability support services increased by almost 50% between 2003-04 and 2008-09, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

‘Of the types of services available, employment and respite services experienced the highest increase in users, up by 70% and 67% respectively since 2003-04,’ said Sean Ackland of the AIHW’s Functioning and Disability Unit.

According to the report, Disability support services 2008-09, 279,000 individuals used disability support services in 2008-09.
‘Total government expenditure on these services was nearly $5.4 billion in 2008-09,’ Mr Ackland said.

Each of the five main service types—respite, employment, accommodation support, community support and community access—experienced real increases in total expenditure.

‘Community support and respite had the largest increases in expenditure, up by more than 60% and 40% respectively,’ Mr Ackland said.

Of disability service users, men (59%) made up a greater proportion than women (41%).

‘The largest number of services users fell into the 25–44 year age group (31% of all users), with around 50,000 male service users and around 35,000 female service users in this group,’ Mr Ackland said.

About one in twenty service users were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

‘This rate is consistent across Australia, except for the Northern Territory, where around half of service users were Indigenous,’ Mr Ackland said.

Intellectual disability was the primary disability, reported by more than a quarter of service users in 2008-09. Psychiatric and physical disabilities followed, accounting for 18% and 16% of service users respectively.

‘Almost one third of service users could be described as multiple service users during 2008-09. That is, they accessed more than one service type outlet,’ Mr Ackland said.

Nearly 40% of people who used disability services also had an informal personal carer, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of informal carers being the mother of the service user.


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