About this report

Disability affects many people, directly or indirectly. It may be a life-altering event or experience. It may have large or small effects on people’s daily lives. Increasingly, disability is recognised as something that affects most people, to varying degrees and at different life stages. Disability is an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions; all of which can interact with a person’s health condition(s) and environmental and/or individual factors to hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Capturing the diverse experiences of people with disability in a reporting context is challenging. People with disability are not a homogeneous group. They have different types and levels of disability; come from all demographic and socioeconomic groups; and interact, in varying degrees, with every aspect of life in Australia across a multitude of social policy and program areas. This is compounded by differing understandings of what disability is and how to best capture it in data.

2020 update

This web report was first released on 3 September 2019. It included a broad range of data from the 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). In 2020, a major update to the web report was released. In the update, the 2015 SDAC data are replaced with data from the 2018 SDAC (including 199 supplementary data tables).

Other updates performed in 2020 include:

  • introducing supplementary data tables from the
    • National Disability Insurance Scheme
    • National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse
  • updating data from the
    • Disability Services National Minimum Data Set
    • Australian Government Housing Data Set
    • National Housing Assistance Data Repository
    • Specialist Homelessness Services Collection
    • Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability
    • Total Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Students and Courses Collection
    • Higher Education Student Data Collection
    • TVET Student Outcomes Collection
    • Student Experience Survey
    • Payment Demographic Data
    • Administrative income support data
  • using data from the
    • Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey
    • Youth Survey Disability Report
    • Graduate Outcomes Survey.

What this report does

This report uses the AIHW’s person-centred reporting framework to draw together information from a range of sources to look at the experiences of people with disability in everyday life (see Person-centred reporting framework). In drawing this information together, the report also highlights key data gaps that need to be filled (see Key data gaps).

The report is part of a wider system of data and reporting about people with disability in Australia. As such, rather than duplicate other efforts, it refers readers to other resources throughout. This includes to the:

  • Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services—information on equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia relating to people with disability
  • Department of Social Services—progress under the National Disability Strategy and National Disability Agreement (NDA)
  • National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) quarterly reporting on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)—information on the NDIS in each jurisdiction.

The online report format makes it possible to readily update existing information and to add new content as data become available.

What this report does not do

This report does not include detailed information about several areas of significant interest to people with disability, their families and carers. This includes information about: carers; the disability workforce; the experiences of specific groups within the disability population; information on pathways and transitions (for example, from school to work); and interactions between different life areas in determining outcomes for people with disability.

Some of these areas will be covered in subsequent releases of this report. For some, however, little or no data are readily available and these will require data development or linkage of data before information can be reported (see Key data gaps).

This report was written using data collected before the COVID-19 situation emerged in Australia in early 2020. High quality data will be even more important in future as we seek to understand the impact on people with disability of the virus itself, the direct and indirect effects of the isolation requirements put in place in response to the virus, and the long-term economic and social impacts of the shutdown.