Increase in use of disability services

The number of Australians using disability support services continues to increase, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Disability support services 2009-10: report on services provided under the National Disability Agreement, shows the number of overall users increased by 47% in the period from 2004–05 to 2009–10.

‘Nearly 300,000 people used services provided under the National Disability Agreement in 2009–10,’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr Sean Ackland.

‘This accounted for approximately $5.8 billion of combined government expenditure.’

Almost 45% of combined government expenditure in 2009-10 was on accommodation support. This was followed by community support (about 14%), community access services (about 11%) and employment services (about 11%).

Males make up the majority (59%) of service users across all age groups, except those aged 65 years and over. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were over-represented, making up 5% of service users while comprising less than 3% of the Australian population.

‘Nearly 40% of disability support service users reported having an informal carer. In three-quarters of these cases, the carer lived with the care recipient and in two-thirds of cases, the carer was their mother—particularly among younger age groups,’ Mr Ackland said.

‘Nearly 1 in 10 service users reported that their carer was their spouse. The likelihood of this increased with the age of the care recipient, peaking at 40% among those aged 65 years and over.’

Between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the number of Australians with disability using employment services rose by 83%.

‘There are two types of employment services available to people with disability,’ Mr Ackland said.

‘Those that provide assistance for people in gaining paid employment in the open labour market and those that provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities to work in specialised and supported work environments.’  

Around a quarter of disability service users aged 15–64 years had some form of employment in 2009-10.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 14 October 2011

Further information: Mr Sean Ackland, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1051, mob. 0422 307 321

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032