This report presents 2009–10 information collected on people who used disability support services provided under the National Disability Agreement (NDA), and the agencies and outlets that provided services. Seven years of national data have been collected as part of the Disability Services National Minimum Dataset (DS NMDS) and an earlier agreement, the Commonwealth State/Territory Disability Agreement. Key trends are looked at over recent years. Nearly 300,000 people used services provided under the NDA in 2009–10, which accounted for $5.8 billion of combined government expenditure.

Increase in service users and expenditure

The number of disability service users rose by 6% from 2008–09 to 2009–10, and by 47% over the period from 2004–05 to 2009–10. Employment services recorded the largest increase in service users over the longer period, with a rise of 83%. This was followed by respite services, with a 50% increase in service users over the same period. From 2004–05 to 2009–10, there was an increase in real expenditure for all service groups, with the largest increases in other support (82%), community support (81%) and employment services (53%). Expenditure per employment service user fell by 17% between 2004–05 and 2009–10, while expenditure per person for community support rose by 32% over the same period.

More service providers

Of the nearly 2,300 disability service agencies operating in 2009–10, more than two-thirds were state or territory funded, the remaining being funded by the Australian Government. These agencies typically operate several service outlets, and the number of these service outlets increased by 50% to 12,000 from 2004–05 to 2009–10. Most service outlets were in the non-government services sector (80%). Overall, the number of service users per service type outlet remained relatively constant between 2004–05 and 2009–10. However, average service users per community support outlet rose by 13% over this period, while community access and respite service outlets fell by 26% and 23%, respectively.

Service user characteristics

In 2009–10, a majority of service users were male (59%); this was the case for  all age groups except those aged 65 years and over (similar proportions were recorded for earlier years). Those aged 45–64 years had the biggest proportional increase, from 21% of service users in 2004–05 to 27% in 2009–10.

People identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were over-represented in the DS NMDS, making up 5% of service users compared with less than 3% of the broader population.

Nearly 40% of disability support service users reported having a carer. More than one‑quarter (28%) of service users aged 15–64 years, had some form of employment in
2009–10, and 57% of service users aged 16–64 years received the Disability Support Pension.

Service user numbers were highest in Major cities, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all users aged 0–64 years.  However, as a proportion of the overall population, Inner regional areas had the highest numbers, with 18 service users per 1,000 population (0–64 years) and Very remote areas the lowest number, with 8 service users per 1,000 population.