How many people have disability?

More than 4 million Australians have disability, or around 18% of the population. This is also known as the prevalence of disability.

People with disability are diverse—they have different types and severities of disability, come from all demographic and socioeconomic groups, and have varying needs for assistance. For example, of people with disability:

  • 1 in 2 (49%) are female
  • 1 in 5 (22%) have a mental or behavioural disorder as their main disabling condition, including:
    • 6.3% with intellectual or developmental disorders
    • 4.2% with mood affective disorders
    • 2.3% with dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • 1 in 3 (32%) have severe or profound disability
  • 1 in 3 (29%) need help with health care
  • 1 in 4 (27%) need help with property maintenance
  • 1 in 4 (24%) need help with household chores
  • 1 in 2 (48%) aged 5 and over have a schooling or employment restriction (2015).

The prevalence of disability increases with age. Around 1 in 8 (13%) people aged under 65 have some level of disability, rising to 1 in 2 (51%) for those aged 65 and over. This means that the longer we live, the more likely we are to experience some form of disability.

But there is some good news, with the disability-free life expectancy of Australians (that is, the estimated years we can expect to live without disability) increasing over time.

Table LIFE EXPECTANCY.1: Expected years of life at birth lived with and without disability, by sex

Sex

Overall life expectancy of Australians born in 2015

Years lived
without disability

Years lived
with disability

Males 

80 years

63 years

17 years

Females

84 years

65 years

19 years