Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) People with disability in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 08 August 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). People with disability in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
People with disability in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 05 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. People with disability in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Aug. 8]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, People with disability in Australia, viewed 8 August 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
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with severe or profound disability live in in the community (in private dwellings)
aged under 65 with disability live in private dwellings, compared with 91% of people aged 65 and over
(82%) with disability who live in private dwellings live in a separate house
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The type of housing a person lives in can affect other aspects of their lives. While most people with disability live at home in the community (in private dwellings), some live in cared accommodation.
Private dwellings and cared accommodation
In the SDAC, private dwellings include self-cared accommodation for the retired or aged, and other private dwellings, including houses, flats, home units, garages, tents and other structures used as private places of residence.
Cared accommodation is usually long term and may be institutional in style. In the SDAC, cared accommodation includes hospitals, residential aged care, cared components of retirement villages, aged care hostels, psychiatric institutions, and other homes (such as group homes for people with disability). To be included the person must have been, or is expected to be, a resident of the cared accommodation for 3 months or more. The accommodation must include all meals for its occupants and provide 24-hour access to assistance for personal and/or medical needs (ABS 2019a).
For information about younger people in residential aged care, see Social support.
Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers
Data in this section are sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). The SDAC is the most detailed and comprehensive source of data on disability prevalence in Australia.
The SDAC considers that a person has disability if they have at least one of a list of limitations, restrictions or impairments, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities.
The limitations are grouped into 10 activities associated with daily living – self-care, mobility, communication, cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, reading or writing tasks, transport, household chores, property maintenance, and meal preparation. The SDAC also identifies 2 other life areas in which people may experience restriction or difficulty as a result of disability – schooling and employment.
The severity of disability is defined by whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment with 3 core activities – self-care, mobility, and communication – and is grouped for mild, moderate, severe, and profound limitation. People who always or sometimes need help with one or more core activities, have difficulty understanding or being understood by family or friends, or can communicate more easily using sign language or other non-spoken forms of communication are referred to in this section as ‘people with severe or profound disability’.
Disability group is a broad categorisation of disability. It is based on underlying health conditions and on impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It is not a diagnostic grouping, nor is there a one-to-one correspondence between a health condition and a disability group.
The ABS SDAC broadly groups disabilities depending on whether they relate to functioning of the mind or the senses, or to anatomy or physiology. Each disability group may refer to a single disability or be composed of a number of broadly similar disabilities. The SDAC identifies 6 separate groups based on the particular type of disability; these are:
While most people with disability (96% or 4.2 million) live in private dwellings, this was not always so. In the past, many, particularly those with severe or profound disability, lived in cared accommodation.
Recent decades, however, have seen a large shift towards supporting people with disability to live in private dwellings. This has mostly been driven by changes for young people with disability. For example, 1 in 500 people aged 0–34 with severe or profound disability lived in cared accommodation in 2018, compared with around 1 in 100 in 2003 (ABS 2019b).
Younger people (aged under 65) with disability are more likely than older people (aged 65 and over) with disability to live in private dwellings (99% or 2.4 million, compared with 91% or 1.8 million) (ABS 2019b).
The more severe a person’s disability is, the more likely they are to live in cared accommodation and the less likely they are to live in the community – 87% (or 1.2 million) with severe or profound disability live in private dwellings, compared with close to 100% (or 2.9 million) with other disability (Table HOUSING.1). This difference is smaller among younger people with disability than older people with disability:
65 and over
Severe or profound disability
All with disability
(a) Including self-cared accommodation for the aged or retired, and other private dwellings.
Source: ABS 2019b; see also Table HOUS2.
The proportion of people with disability aged under 65 who live in private dwellings is high and there is not much variation by disability group. In contrast, there are substantial differences by disability group for those aged 65 and over. People aged 65 and over with physical or sensory disability are more likely to live in private dwellings (89% or 1.2 million, and 88% or 856,000 respectively) than those with head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury (75% or 111,000), psychosocial disability (63% or 226,000), or intellectual disability (52% or 105,000) (Table HOUSING.2).
Sensory and speech
Head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury
Source: ABS 2019b; see also Table HOUS5.
About 4 in 5 (82% or 3.4 million) people with disability living in private dwellings live in a separate house (that is, a house separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre – see ABS: dwelling structure for classifications). This is similar to those without disability (81% or 16.4 million).
Older people (aged 65 and over) with disability are about as likely to live in a separate house as younger people (aged under 65):
The most common type of home for people with disability who do not live in a separate house is a single storey semi-detached house (such as a row or terrace house or townhouse) (42% or 323,000). Those aged 65 and over are more likely (53% or 184,000) than those aged under 65 (34% or 143,000) to live in this type of dwelling (Figure HOUSING.1).
Figure HOUSING.1: Private dwellings other than separate house, by disability status and age group, 2018
Bar chart showing 5 categories of private dwelling type (other than separate house) for people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by age group, including under 65, 65 and over, and all ages. The chart shows people with disability aged under 65 are more likely (19%) to live in a flat or apartment in a one or 2 storey block than those aged 65 and over (14%).
Source data tables: Type of housing (XLSX, 125 kB)
Data tables for this report.
ABS Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2019a) Disability, ageing and carers, Australia: summary of findings, 2018, ABS, accessed 30 July 2021.
ABS (2019b) Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2018, ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002, ABS, AIHW analysis of TableBuilder data, accessed 6 October 2021.
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