Housing-related needs

Around 1 in 8

(12%) people with disability have their home modified because of their condition or age

79% of social housing households

with 1 or more person with disability have their safety and security needs at home met

1 in 12

(8.6%) people with disability moved house because of their condition or age

Introduction

People with disability may have specific housing-related needs. These can include modifying their dwelling, moving to more suitable accommodation, or moving closer to other services.

Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers

Data in this section are largely sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). The SDAC is the most detailed and comprehensive source of data on disability prevalence in Australia.

The SDAC considers that a person has disability if they have at least one of a list of limitations, restrictions or impairments, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities.

The limitations are grouped into 10 activities associated with daily living – self-care, mobility, communication, cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, reading or writing tasks, transport, household chores, property maintenance, and meal preparation. The SDAC also identifies 2 other life areas in which people may experience restriction or difficulty as a result of disability – schooling and employment.

The severity of disability is defined by whether a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment with 3 core activities – self-care, mobility, and communication – and is grouped for mild, moderate, severe, and profound limitation. People who always or sometimes need help with one or more core activities, have difficulty understanding or being understood by family or friends, or can communicate more easily using sign language or other non-spoken forms of communication are referred to in this section as ‘people with severe or profound disability’.

Disability group

Disability group is a broad categorisation of disability. It is based on underlying health conditions and on impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It is not a diagnostic grouping, nor is there a one-to-one correspondence between a health condition and a disability group.

The ABS SDAC broadly groups disabilities depending on whether they relate to functioning of the mind or the senses, or to anatomy or physiology. Each disability group may refer to a single disability or be composed of a number of broadly similar disabilities. The SDAC identifies 6 separate groups based on the particular type of disability; these are:

  • sensory and speech (sight, hearing, speech)
  • intellectual (difficulty learning or understanding)
  • physical (including breathing difficulties, chronic or recurrent pain, incomplete use of limbs and more)
  • psychosocial (including nervous or emotional conditions, mental illness, memory problems, and social or behavioural difficulties)
  • head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury
  • other (restrictions in everyday activities due to other long-term conditions or ailments) (ABS 2019).

Modifications to accommodation

Some people with disability may need modifications to buildings or fittings to help them move around or live with greater independence.

Of people living in private dwellings:

  • 1 in 8 (12% or 511,000) with disability, and 1 in 4 (26% or 314,000) with severe or profound disability, have modifications made to their home because of their condition or age
  • 1 in 5 (20% or 359,000) aged 65 and over with disability, and 2 in 5 (41% or 210,000) aged 65 and over with severe or profound disability, have done so
  • those with disability aged under 25 (5.0% or 32,000) or 25–64 (7.0% or 124,000) are less likely to have done so than those aged 65 and over (20% or 359,000) (Table NEEDS.1).
Table NEEDS.1: People with disability(a) whose dwelling has been modified, by disability status and age group (%), 2018

Disability status

Under 25

25–64

65 and over

All ages

Severe or profound disability

8.5

19.9

40.6

25.5

Other disability

**

3.1

11.8

6.7

All with disability

5.0

7.0

20.3

12.2

 ** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

(a) People with disability living in households.

Source: ABS 2019; see also Table NEED2.

The percentage of people with disability living in private dwellings who have modifications made to their home varies by disability group and increases with age:

Table NEEDS.2: People with disability(a) whose dwelling has been modified, by disability group and age group (%), 2018

Disability group

Under 65

65 and over

All ages

Sensory and speech

8.5

20.8

16.0

Intellectual

7.5

30.8

11.2

Physical restriction

10.0

25.3

17.1

Psychosocial

9.9

33.9

15.3

Head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury

14.3

38.4

22.5

Other

11.1

31.2

19.5

 (a) People with disability living in households.

Source: ABS 2019; see also Table NEED4.

For those with disability who have their home modified:

  • almost half of those aged under 65 (47% or 74,000) have the toilet, bath or laundry modified, and 47% (or 168,000) of those aged 65 and over
  • almost half of those aged under 65 (46% or 72,000) have handrails or grab rails installed, compared with 3 in 4 (74% or 264,000) of those aged 65 and over
  • 23% (or 36,000) of those aged under 65 have ramps installed, and 21% (or 74,000) of those aged 65 and over (Figure NEEDS.1).

Figure NEEDS.1: Home modifications for people with disability, by disability status and age group, 2018

Bar chart showing 6 types of home modifications for people with disability, whose dwelling has been modified because of condition or age, who are aged under 65, 65 and over, and all ages. The reader can select to display the chart by disability status. The chart shows people with severe or profound disability aged under 65are less likely (47%) to require handrails or grab rails for their homes than those aged 65and over (73%).

Source data tables: Housing needs (XLSX, 202 kB)

In summary, whether a person with disability has their home modified, as well as types of modifications, varies by age and level of disability (Figure NEEDS.1). For example:

  • older people (aged 65 and over) with disability, and those with severe or profound disability, are the most likely to have their home modified
  • while handrails and grab rails are a common adjustment for all age groups, this modification is more common among older people
  • some modifications (such as structural changes) are more often made for younger people (aged under 65) than for older people (aged 65 and over).

Satisfaction with home and neighbourhood

Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey

Data in this section are sourced from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Survey is a nationally representative, household-based longitudinal study of Australian households and individuals conducted in annual waves since 2001. Members of selected households who are Australian residents and aged 15 or over are invited to participate in a personal face-to-face interview. This section presents cross-sectional analyses of the 17th wave (2017). In 2017 almost 18,000 people from around 10,000 households participated in the HILDA survey.

The HILDA Survey defines disability as an impairment, long-term health condition or disability that restricts everyday activities and has lasted, or is likely to last, for 6 months or more. This is similar to the definition of disability used by the ABS Short Disability Module. In this section people who always or sometimes need help or supervision with at least one core activity because of their disability are referred to as people with ‘severe or profound disability’. Core activities include self-care, mobility and communication. People who have a disability but do not always or sometimes need help or supervision with at least one core activity are referred to as people with ‘other disability’. The HILDA Survey does not collect information on level of disability in every wave. The most recent collection was in the 17th wave (2017) (Summerfield et al. 2019; Wilkins et al. 2019).

Disability group

Disability group is a broad categorisation of disability. It is based on underlying health conditions and on impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It is not a diagnostic grouping, nor is there a one-to-one correspondence between a health condition and a disability group.

The HILDA Survey collects information on 17 disability types, which have been combined into the following 6 disability groups:

  • sensory: includes sight, hearing, and speech problems
  • intellectual: includes difficulty learning or understanding things
  • physical: includes difficulty breathing, blackouts, chronic pain, limited use of arms or fingers, difficulty gripping things, limited use of feet or legs, physical restrictions, and disfigurement or deformity
  • psychosocial: includes nervous or emotional conditions, and mental illness
  • head injury, stroke or other brain damage
  • other: includes long-term conditions that are restrictive despite treatment or medication, and other long-term conditions.

Satisfaction with home and neighbourhood

In 2017, HILDA Survey participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with the home they live in and their neighbourhood on a 0–10 scale. Ten represents the highest level of satisfaction and 0 the lowest (DSS and MIAESR 2019). In this analysis, people who indicate a satisfaction level between 0 and 5 are referred to as not being satisfied.

One in 7 (14%) people aged 15–64 with disability are not satisfied with their home compared with 1 in 13 (7.8%) of those without disability. People with disability aged 65 and over are less likely (5.9%) to be not satisfied with their home than those aged 15–64. Of people with disability aged 15–64:

  • those with severe or profound disability are more likely (20%) to be not satisfied than those with other disability status (13%)
  • those with intellectual disability or psychosocial disability are more likely to be not satisfied (19% and 17% respectively) than those with sensory disability (11%), and 14% of those with physical disability are not satisfied (DSS and MIAESR 2019).

People with disability aged 15–64 are more than twice as likely (17%) to be not satisfied with their neighbourhood as those without disability (8.0%). People with disability aged 65 and over are less likely (8.5%) to be not satisfied with their neighbourhood than those aged 15–64, but almost 3 times as likely as people without disability aged 65 and over (2.9%). Of people with disability aged 15–64:

  • females are more likely (19%) to be not satisfied with their neighbourhood than males (15%)
  • those with severe or profound disability are more likely (24%) than those with other disability status (16%)
  • those with intellectual disability or psychosocial disability are more likely to be not satisfied (24% and 25% respectively) than those with sensory disability 18%, and 20% of those with physical disability are not satisfied (DSS and MIAESR 2019).

Moving house

What is meant by moving house?

The HILDA Survey is collected every year from the same people, although not all people respond every year and some new people are added to the survey. HILDA asks continuing respondents whether they have moved house since their last interview. It asks new respondents whether they have moved in the previous 12 months (DSS and MIAESR 2019).

How is remoteness defined?

The remoteness categories used in HILDA are based on the Australian Statistical Geography Standard Remoteness Area framework (Summerfield et al. 2019).

AIHW analysis of HILDA 2017 data shows that 12% of people with disability had moved house in the previous year or since their last interview. Younger people with disability aged 15–24 or 25–34 are more likely (21% and 28% respectively) to have moved house than those aged 55–64 (8.6%) or 65 and over (6.6%). This is similar for people without disability. Of people aged 15–64:

  • 16% of those with disability had moved house in the previous year or since their last interview and 18% of those without disability
  • those with disability in Major cities were less likely (13%) to have moved than those in Inner regional areas (20%), or Outer regional, remote and very remote areas (21%)
  • reasons for moving for those with disability who had moved house were family (30%), lifestyle (24%), getting a larger or better place (17%), property no longer available (16%), job or study (10%), getting a smaller or less expensive place (9.6%), health reasons (7.6%) and other reasons (4.2%)
  • those with disability who have moved are more likely (7.6%) to have done so for health reasons than those without disability (0.7%)
  • those with disability who have moved are less likely to have done so for lifestyle reasons (24%) or job or study (10%) than those without disability (31% and 16% respectively)
  • more than half (55%) of continuing respondents with disability who have moved house since their last interview moved less than 10km from their previous home, 1 in 3 (32%) moved between 10km and less than 100km, and 1 in 8 (13%) moved 100km or more (DSS and MIAESR 2019).

Need to move house

 

What is meant by need to move house?

The SDAC collects information on whether people living in households have ever needed to move house because of their condition or age.

One in 12 people with disability (8.6% or 358,000) have moved house because of their condition or age. People with severe or profound disability (15% or 187,000) are more than twice as likely as people with other disability (5.8% or 172,000) to have done so. Younger people (aged under 65) with disability (8.2% or 197,000) are about as likely as older people (aged 65 and over) with disability (9.3% or 164,000) to have done so (Figure NEEDS.2).

Figure NEEDS.2: Moving house due to condition or age for people with disability, and if they moved more than once, by disability status and age group, 2018

Stacked column chart showing whether people with disability had to move house because of their condition or age, for people aged under 65, 65 and over, and all ages. The reader can select to display the chart by disability status. The chart shows people with severe or profound disability are more likely (15%) to have to move house than those with other disability (5.8%).

Source data tables: Housing needs (XLSX, 202 kB)

People aged under 65 with psychosocial disability (15% or 119,000) or with disability caused by head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury (20% or 34,000) are more likely to have moved house because of their condition or age than those with sensory or speech disability (8.7% or 49,000), intellectual disability (9.7% or 52,000) or physical restrictions (11% or 146,000) (ABS 2019).

Almost one-quarter (23% or 82,000) of people with disability, who had to move, have moved more than once because of their condition or age (Figure NEEDS.2). Younger people (aged under 65) with disability (32% or 64,000) are more likely than older people (aged 65 and over) with disability (11% or 18,000) to have done so (ABS 2019).


Needs in social housing

Proximity to services

Being able to access services, such as medical centres or public transport, is important for better health, social and economic outcomes. Compared with other social housing households, those that have at least one person with disability are less likely to live where their needs to access nominated services and facilities are met (Table NEEDS.3).

Table NEEDS.3: Social housing households who rated proximity to services as important, by whether location meets their needs to access nominated services and facilities and whether person with disability in household (%), 2018

Services and facilities

Person with disability in household

No person with disability in household

Shops and banking

90.4

94.1

Public transport

87.5

93.8

Parks and recreational facilities

88.7

93.8

Emergency services, medical services and hospitals

89.9

94.6

Child care facilities

87.0

90.1

Education and training facilities

88.0

92.3

Employment and place of work

84.0

89.2

Community and support services

83.0

92.2

Family and friends

87.2

90.2

 Source: AIHW 2019.

National Social Housing Survey

Data in this section are sourced from the 2018 National Social Housing Survey (NSHS). The NSHS is a biennial survey of social housing tenants. It complements administrative data collected by social housing providers and includes information on tenants and their social housing experiences.

Participants are randomly sampled from social housing programs – public housing, state owned and managed Indigenous housing, community housing and Indigenous Community Housing.

Households that have at least one person with disability are those in which at least one member always or sometimes needs assistance with self-care activities, body movement activities or communication, and the reason they need assistance is ‘long-term health condition lasting 6 months or more’ or ‘disability’.

Home amenities

Of social housing households that rated the below home amenities as important, those that have at least one person with disability are less likely than those without a person with disability to say that their needs are met for:

  • modifications for special needs (73% compared with 83% when rated as important)
  • ease of access and entry (85% compared with 93%)
  • safety and security, whether at home (79% compared with 85%) or in the neighbourhood (73% compared with 81%)
  • thermal comfort (in the heat or cold) (57% compared 65%) (AIHW 2019).