Community support and employment services most used disability services

Under the National Disability Agreement (NDA) almost 334,000 people used disability support services in 2014–15—up by 6% from 2010–11—according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2014–15, shows that while overall demand grew, proportionally, use of most service groups remained stable.

Services under the NDA include a range of service types which can be grouped into:

  • Community support (used by 45% of service users)
  • Employment services (used by 44% of service users)
  • Community access (used by 17% of service users)
  • Accommodation support (used by 13% of service users)
  • Respite (used by 11% of service users).

'The average age of service users was 35, with close to three-quarters (73%) of users under 50. Many also rely on informal carers, with about two-thirds of NDA service users having an informal carer—most often their mother (72%),' said AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury.

The majority (59%) of users were male and were generally younger than their female counterpart—with an average age of just over 32 for men and just under 38 for women.

The most common form of disability was intellectual or learning disability (44% of service users) followed by physical or diverse disability (41%), psychiatric disability (29%) and sensory or speech disability (18%).

'Each year since 2013–14, around 1% of service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Over time, it is expected that many of the services provided under the NDA will transition into the NDIS,' said Mr Cooper-Stanbury.

Services provided under the NDA still form the basis of national data and reporting, with most service users currently receiving support under the NDA. As the transition to the NDIS continues, these data will provide important contextual information to inform the changes.

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, 8 June 2016 

Further information: Mark Cooper-Stanbury, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1251, mob. 0418 271 395