Type of housing

99% of people

aged under 65 with disability live at home or in the community, compared with 91% of older people.

87% of people

with severe or profound disability live at home or in the community.

8 in 10 people

(82%) people with disability who live at home or in the community live in a separate house.

On this page:


Introduction

The type of housing a person lives in can affect other aspects of their lives. While most people with disability live at home or in housing within the community, some live in cared accommodation.

Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers

Data in this section are 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’.


Living in private dwellings or cared accommodation

While most people with disability (96%) live in private dwellings, this was not always so. In the past, many, particularly those with severe or profound disability, lived in cared accommodation.

Private dwellings

In the SDAC, private dwellings include self-cared accommodation for the retired or aged, and other private dwellings, including houses, flats, home units, garages, tents and other structures used as private places of residence.

Cared accommodation

Cared accommodation is usually long term and may be institutional in style. In the SDAC, cared accommodation includes hospitals, residential aged care, cared components of retirement villages, aged care hostels, psychiatric institutions, and other homes (such as group homes for people with disability). To be included the person must have been, or are expected to be, a resident of the cared accommodation for 3 months or more. The accommodation must include all meals for its occupants and provide 24-hour access to assistance for personal and/or medical needs (ABS 2019a).

For information about younger people in residential aged care, see Social support.

Recent decades, however, have seen a large shift towards supporting people with disability to live in private dwellings. This has mostly been driven by changes for young people with disability. For example, 1 in 500 people aged 0–34 with severe or profound disability lived in cared accommodation in 2018, compared with around 1 in 100 in 2003 (ABS 2019b).

Younger people (aged under 65) with disability are more likely than older people (aged 65 and over) with disability to live in private dwellings (99%, compared with 91%) (ABS 2019b).

The more severe a person’s disability is, the more likely they are to live in cared accommodation and the less likely they are to live at home or in the community—87% with severe or profound disability live in private dwellings, compared with close to 100% with other disability (Table HOUSING.1). This difference is smaller among younger people with disability than older people with disability:

  • 99% of people aged under 65 with severe or profound disability live in private dwellings, compared with close to 100% of those with other disability
  • 75% of people aged 65 and over with severe or profound disability and over do so, compared with close to 100% of those with other disability.
Table HOUSING.1: Likelihood of living in private dwelling(a) for people with disability, by age group and disability status, 2018 (%)

Age group

Severe or profound disability

Other disability

All with disability

Under 65

98.6

100.0

99.4

65 and over

75.3

99.7

91.0

All ages

87.1

99.8

95.7

(a) Including self-cared accommodation for the aged or retired, and other private dwellings.

Source: ABS 2019b; see also Table HOUS1.


Home type

About 4 in 5 (82%) people with disability living in private dwellings live in a separate house (that is, a house separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre—see ABS: dwelling structure for classifications). This is similar to those without disability (81%).

Older people (aged 65 and over) with disability, are about as likely to live in a separate house as younger people (aged under 65):

  • people with disability—80% compared with 83%
  • people without disability—82% compared with 81% (ABS 2019b).

The most common type of home for people with disability who do not live in a separate house is a single storey semi-detached house (such as a row or terrace house or townhouse) (42%) (Figure HOUSING.1).

Figure HOUSING.1: Private dwellings other than separate house, by disability status and age group, 2018

Bar chart showing 5 categories of private dwelling type (other than separate house) for people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by age group, including under 65, 65+ and all ages. The chart shows people with disability aged under 65 are more likely (19%) to live in a flat or apartment in a 1 or 2 storey block than those aged 65 and over (14%).