Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) People with disability in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 November 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). People with disability in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
People with disability in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 05 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. People with disability in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Nov. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, People with disability in Australia, viewed 27 November 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
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remained stable throughout the pandemic (22% for those aged 15 and over)
with disability who had a job had regularly worked from home in June 2021 (39% without disability)
with disability had not worked from home in the previous 4 weeks
(51% without disability)
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The data used in this section are largely from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. This survey was designed to provide a quick snapshot of the changing social and economic situation for Australian households with particular focus on how they were faring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey was initially conducted between April 2020 and June 2021. From 1 April to 10 July 2020, the survey was conducted fortnightly with the same panel of respondents. From August 2020, the survey was conducted monthly with a new panel. Panel members have rotated, with new members added in November 2020 and March 2021. At the time of writing, the June 2021 survey was the last in the series; the survey was subsequently reinstated for 3 months from February to April 2022.
Each cycle of the survey collected information on different topics. Some topics have been repeated in both fortnightly and monthly surveys. The topics included:
self-assessed physical and mental health
emotional and mental wellbeing
use of health services (including telehealth)
job situation (including access to leave, job search and working from home arrangements)
training and development of skills
household finances (including income, saving, spending and financial stress)
receipt of government assistance payments and supports
care and assistance provided to vulnerable people inside and outside of household
caring for children and child care and schooling arrangements during COVID-19
social contacts and participation in activities
personal and household stressors
COVID-19 vaccination attitudes and experiences
behaviours around COVID-19 testing
precautions taken due to COVID-19
life after COVID-19.
Disability status was captured in the survey using a subset of questions from the ABS Short Disability Module. While this module provides useful information about the characteristics of people with disability relative to those without, it is not recommended for use in measuring disability prevalence.
In the survey, a person is considered to have disability if they have one or more conditions (including long-term health conditions) which have lasted, or are likely to last, for at least 6 months and restrict everyday activities.
The survey collected data from people aged 18 and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas). It did not include people living in institutional settings, such as aged care facilities.
Due to constant and rapid changes in the COVID-19 situation, the numbers reported in this section should be viewed in the context of the situation at the time of data collection. Therefore, throughout this section, references are made to the month in which the data were collected. A brief timeline of COVID-19 in Australia between January 2020 and October 2021 is provided below for reference.
Source: COVID-19 in Australia
March–April 2020 – first wave
May–June 2020 – gradual easing of restrictions
July–October 2020 – second wave
November 2020–June 2021
July–October 2021 – third wave
A National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) report on NDIS participant and family/carer outcomes during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic (up to 30 June 2020) showed that COVID-19 had a mixed impact on employment (NDIA 2020).
NDIS Outcomes Framework Survey
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) regularly collects information on how participants, their families and carers are progressing in different areas of their lives, as part of the Long Form Outcomes Framework survey.
A new cohort of participants is added to the survey every year. Selected NDIS participants are invited to take part in the baseline survey at Scheme entry; those who agree to participate are contacted annually for a follow-up interview. Families and carers of participants are also interviewed (NDIA 2020b).
The survey adopts a lifespan approach, with 4 respondent groups based on participant age: birth to before school, from starting school to 14 years of age, 15–24 years, and 25 years and over. Questions asked of participants and their families and carers differ based on the participant’s age group (NDIA 2020b).
The survey design allows 2 types of comparisons of outcomes for participants and their families and carers over time:
In particular, it is possible to compare the results collected before 23 March 2020 (when the COVID-19 restrictions were introduced) with those collected after that date.
Comparing the outcomes for families and carers of participants aged 0–14 whose NDIS entry was after the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions (23 March 2020) with those whose entry was before that date:
For families and carers of participants aged 0–14 who had been observed in the scheme at 2 time points (before and after introduction of COVID-19 restrictions), there was some reduction in the likelihood of having a paid job or of working 15 or more hours per week post-COVID (NDIA 2020).
For families and carers of participants aged 15 and over, no significant changes in employment were observed before and after introduction of COVID-19 restrictions (NDIA 2020, 2021):
For the NDIS participants aged 15 years or over who had been in the scheme for at least 2 years, the latest employment rates as at 30 June 2021 remained the same as they were at scheme entry:
In March–April 2020, an online survey by CYDA designed to capture the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with disability and their families found that 21% of respondents were unable to work in their usual employment (Dickinson and Yates 2020).
CYDA COVID-19 survey
Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), a national representative organisation for children and young people (aged 0–25) with disability, ran an online survey between 16 March and 23 April 2020 about the experiences of children and young people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was promoted among CYDA members (more than 5,000 people) and via social media by other disability advocacy organisations. Respondents self-selected to participate.
Of 697 people who responded to the survey:
The ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 survey showed that between November 2020 and June 2021:
The proportions of people who had a job were similar to the 2018 rates reported in the ‘Employment’ section of this report (48% for people aged 15-64 with disability and 80% for those without disability (ABS 2019), however these are not directly comparable due to differences in age and the collection methodology (ABS 2020b).
From November 2020 to June 2021, between 8.5% and 16% of adults with disability reported each month that their job situation had changed in the month prior to the interview:
 Job situation changes included working more or fewer paid hours, no longer working paid hours, finding a new job, or losing a job. In most cases, job changes were an adjustment to the working hours.
COVID-19 restrictions meant that, for many employees, working from home arrangements had become the norm from March 2020. Between December 2020 and June 2021, the reported frequency of working from home was similar for employed people with disability and those without disability (ABS 2021a, 2021b, 2021c, 2021d, 2021e, 2021f). For example, in June 2021:
For those who usually worked from home in their job or business, the main reason for people both with and without disability was restrictions due to COVID-19:
The preferences for working from home were generally similar for employed adults with and without disability:
Data tables for this report.
ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2019) Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2018, ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002, ABS, AIHW analysis of TableBuilder data, accessed 13 October 2020.
ABS (2020a) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, November 2020, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2020b) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey methodology, November 2020, ABS, accessed 20 January 2022.
ABS (2020c) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, December 2020, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021a) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, January 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021b) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, February 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021c) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, March 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021d) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, April 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021e) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, May 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
ABS (2021f) Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, June 2021, ABS, accessed 26 November 2021.
Dickinson H and Yates S (2020) More than isolated: The experience of children and young people with disability and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, report prepared for Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA), CYDA, Melbourne, accessed 21 January 2022.
NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) (2020) Participant and family/carer outcomes: COVID-19 impact, NDIA, accessed 20 January 2022.
NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) (2021) NDIS quarterly report to disability ministers for Q4 of Y8, 30 June 2021, NDIA, accessed 10 May 2022.
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