People with disability tend to be worse off financially than those without disability. This can affect their ability to raise funds in an emergency, pay bills or buy food. Some people with disability have to seek help from friends, family or welfare and community organisations because of financial problems.
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 and 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).
In addition to personal face-to-face interviews, survey participants are asked to complete a self-completion questionnaire. The questionnaire covers sensitive questions some people may not feel entirely comfortable answering in a face-to-face interview, such as prosperity, ability to raise emergency funds and stressful financial events.
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.
HILDA survey participants are asked to assess their own and their family’s prosperity given their current needs and financial responsibilities.
Almost 2 in 5 (38%) people with disability aged 15–64 describe their prosperity as just getting along and nearly 1 in 10 (8.7%) as poor or very poor, compared with 24% and 2.2% of those without disability. People with disability aged 25–64 are more likely to just get along (39%) or be poor or very poor (9.4%) than those aged 15–24 (28% and 4.1% respectively) or 65 and over (26% and 3.7% respectively). Of people aged 15–64 with disability:
- those with severe or profound disability are more than twice as likely (19%) to rate themselves as poor or very poor compared with those with other disability status (7.3%)
- those in Major cities are more likely (14%) to feel prosperous or very comfortable than those in Inner regional (10%), or Outer regional, remote and very remote areas (8.6%) (DSS and MIAESR 2019a).
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).
Satisfaction with financial situation
Satisfaction with financial situation
In 2017, HILDA survey participants were asked to rate their satisfaction with their financial situation on a 0–10 scale. Ten represents the highest level of satisfaction and 0 the lowest (DSS and MIAESR 2019a). In this analysis, people who indicate a satisfaction level between 0 and 5 are referred to as not being satisfied.
People with disability aged 15–64 are more likely (42%) to be not satisfied with their financial situation than those without disability (24%). Older people with disability (aged 65 and over) are less likely (24%) to be not satisfied than those with disability aged 15–64, but more likely than older people without disability (11%). Of those with disability aged 15–64:
- males are about as likely (43%) to be not satisfied with their financial situation as females (41%)
- those with severe or profound disability are more likely to be not satisfied (56%) than those with other disability status (40%)
- those with intellectual or psychosocial disability are more likely (57% and 58% respectively) to be not satisfied than those with sensory (43%) or physical disability (46%) (DSS and MIAESR 2019a).
Ability to raise emergency funds
What is meant by raising emergency funds?
Raising emergency funds is defined as being able to raise $3,000 for an emergency within one week.
Having to raise $3,000 for an emergency within one week could be a problem for many people with disability:
- 22% of people with disability aged 15–64 would not be able to raise emergency funds
- 12% would have to take drastic action, such as selling an important possession
- 20% would have to make sacrifices, such as reduce spending or selling a possession
- 45% could easily raise emergency funds.
Those without disability are more likely (59%) to be able to easily raise emergency funds (DSS and MIAESR 2019a).
The ability to raise emergency funds increases by age. People with disability aged 65 and over are more than twice as likely (72%) to be able to easily raise emergency funds than those aged 15–24 (31%) (Figure FINANCES.1). Of people aged 15–64 with disability:
- those with severe or profound disability are less likely (28%) to be able to easily raise emergency funds than those with other disability status (47%)
- males (45%) are about as likely as females (45%)
- those in Major cities are more likely (49%) than those in Inner regional areas (36%)
- those with intellectual disability are least likely (20%) to be able to easily raise emergency funds
- people with psychosocial disability are less likely (31%) than those with sensory (46%) or physical disability (44%) (DSS and MIAESR 2019a).