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.

On this page:


Introduction

People with disability may have specific housing-related needs. This 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 disability prevalence in Australia.

The SDAC considers that a person has disability if they have at least 1 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 if 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 1 or more core activities are referred to in this section as ‘people with severe or profound disability’.


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 (Table NEEDS.1).
Table NEEDS.1: People with disability(a) whose dwelling has been modified, by age group and disability status (%), 2018

Age group

Severe or profound disability

Other disability

All with disability

Under 65

14.9

2.9

6.4

65 and over

40.6

11.8

20.3

All ages

25.5

6.7

12.2

(a) People with disability living in households.

Source: ABS 2019; see also Table NEED1.

Handrails and grab rails are the most common modification made. Of those with disability who have their home modified:

  • 2 in 3 (66%) have handrails or grab rails installed
  • 48% have the toilet, bath or laundry modified
  • 21% have ramps installed (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 years, 65+ years 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 65 years are less likely (47%) to require handrails or grab rails for their homes than those aged 65 years and over (73%).

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 the most 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).

Need to move house

One in 12 people with disability (8.6%) have moved house because of their condition or age (Figure NEEDS.2). People with severe or profound disability (15%) are more than twice as likely as people with other disability (5.8%) to have done so.

Almost 1 in 4 (23%) 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%) are more likely than older people (aged 65 and over) with disability (11%) to have done so (ABS 2019).

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 years, 65+ years 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%).


Needs in social housing

Proximity to services

Being able to access other services, such as medical centres or public transport, is important. Compared with other social housing households, those that have at least 1 person with disability are less likely to live where their needs to nominated services and facilities are met. Of those that rated access to these services as important:

  • 90% said their location meets their needs for access to shops and banking, compared with 94% that do not have a person with disability
  • 88% for public transport, compared with 94%
  • 89% for parks and recreational facilities, compared with 94%
  • 90% for emergency services, medical services and hospitals, compared with 95%
  • 87% for child-care facilities, compared with 90%
  • 88% for education and training facilities, compared with 92%
  • 84% for employment and place of work, compared with 89%
  • 83% for community and support services, compared with 92%
  • 87% for family and friends, compared with 90% (AIHW 2019).

National Social Housing Survey

Data on this page 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 1 person with disability are those in which at least 1 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’.

Other needs

Of social housing households that rated these services as important, those that have at least 1 person with disability are less likely 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).