How many people have disability?

More than 4 million people in Australia have disability, or around 18% of the population (2018). This is also known as the prevalence of disability.

People with disability are diverse – having different types and levels of disability, coming from all demographic and socioeconomic groups, and having varying needs for assistance. For example, of people with disability:

  • 1 in 2 (51%) are female
  • 1 in 4 (23%) have a mental or behavioural disorder as their main condition, including:
    • 6.5% with intellectual and developmental disorders (including autism)
    • 3.8% with mood affective disorders, such as depression
    • 2.6% with dementia or Alzheimer disease
  • 1 in 3 (32%) have severe or profound disability
  • 1 in 3 (30%) need help with health care
  • 1 in 4 (27%) need help with property maintenance
  • 1 in 4 (23%) need help with household chores
  • 1 in 2 (48%) aged 5 and over have a schooling or employment restriction (2018).

The prevalence of disability increases with age. Around 1 in 8 (12%) people aged under 65 have some level of disability, rising to 1 in 2 (50%) for those aged 65 and over. This means that the longer we live, the more likely we are to experience some form of disability.

The disability-free life expectancy of people in Australia (that is, the estimated number of years people can expect to live without disability) is increasing over time.

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


Overall life expectancy of people born in 2018

Expected years of life without disability

Expected years of life with disability


81 years

64 years

17 years


85 years

66 years

19 years