Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) People with disability in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 05 July 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 Jul. 5]. 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 5 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia
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(12%) people with disability have their home modified because of their condition or age
with 1 or more person with disability have their safety and security needs at home met
(8.6%) people with disability moved house because of their condition or age
On this page:
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 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:
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:
65 and over
Severe or profound disability
All with disability
** 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:
Sensory and speech
Head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury
(a) People with disability living in households.
Source: ABS 2019; see also Table NEED4.
For those with disability who have their home modified:
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:
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).
The HILDA Survey collects information on 17 disability types, which have been combined into the following 6 disability groups:
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:
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:
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:
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).
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).
Services and facilities
Person with disability in household
No person with disability in household
Shops and banking
Parks and recreational facilities
Emergency services, medical services and hospitals
Child care facilities
Education and training facilities
Employment and place of work
Community and support services
Family and friends
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’.
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:
Data tables for this report.
ABS Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 17.
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 15 April 2021.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2019). National Social Housing Survey 2018: key results, AIHW, accessed 15 September 2021.
DSS (Department of Social Services) and MIAESR (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic Social Research) (2019) The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, general release 18 (wave 17), doi:10.26193/IYBXHM, ADA Dataverse, AIHW analysis of unit record data, accessed 30 July 2021.
Summerfield M, Bright S, Hahn M, La N, Macalalad N, Watson N, Wilkins R and Wooden M (2019) HILDA User Manual – Release 18, Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, accessed 4 August 2021.
Wilkins R, Lass I, Butterworth P and Vera-Toscano E (2019) The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 17, Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, accessed 4 August 2021.
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