This report presents information about people who used disability support services during 2008–09, and the agencies and outlets that provided services. Key trends in service provision are also examined using six years of national data collected for, or partially, for the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement National Minimum Data Set (CSTDA NMDS). The 2008–09 reporting period is the last year that data will be collected under the CSTDA. For 2009–10 the CSTDA NMDS will be renamed the Disability Services NMDS and will continue to contain data about services provided under the National Disability
Agreement (NDA).

Over one quarter of a million people used services provided under the CSTDA/NDA in 2008–09, which accounted for nearly $5.4 billion of combined government expenditures.

Increase in service users and expenditure

The number of service users across all service groups increased by nearly 50% between 2003–04 and 2008–09 (to 279,000 individuals). Employment and respite services registered the highest increases in service users over this period (70% and 67% respectively) (Section 2.2). Meanwhile, total government expenditure on disability support services increased by 22% in real terms. Each of the five main service groups—accommodation support,
community support, community access, respite and employment—registered real increases in total expenditure (Section 2.4). Community support and respite had the largest increases, of more than 60% and 40% respectively, between 2003–04 and 2008–09.

More service providers

More than 11,000 outlets delivered services under the CSTDA in 2008–09—an increase of more than a third since 2003–04 (Chapter 2). Most service outlets are from the nongovernment services sector (Section 2.1) and the average number of service users per service type outlet has steadily grown over this period (by more than 10%)—in particular, community support services which has grown by more than a third. Almost one-third of service users used more than one service type outlet.

Service user characteristics

More males than females were recorded as disability services users (59:41) and nearly one in twenty service users were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. More than 6% of total service users were aged under 5 years. Intellectual disability continues as the predominant primary disability, reported by more than a quarter of service users in 2008–09; this was followed by users reported having psychiatric and physical disabilities (Section 4.1). Nearly 40% of disability support service users reported having an informal carer.