Key data gaps

Although much is known about how people with disability experience daily life in Australia, critical data gaps remain. These limit the ability to present a comprehensive and insightful picture, including about pathways through and across multiple service systems and the extent to which these contribute to positive outcomes.

This section presents key data gaps about people with disability. It also looks at opportunities to enhance available information through:

  • maximising the use of existing data sources
  • improving the quality and comparability of data sources
  • adding to data sources.

The gaps and opportunities presented are not exhaustive. Rather, they are intended to form a basis for discussion. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) continues to work with other statistical agencies and data custodians to maximise, streamline and improve the collection of data about people with disability.

Most of the data used in this report were collected before the COVID-19 situation emerged in Australia in early 2020. The report includes a new chapter presenting selected findings on experiences of people with disability during the early to mid-stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia (2020 to mid-2021), using administrative data as well as surveys developed in 2020 to specifically assess people’s experiences during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the limitations of existing data sources, with information about COVID-19 vaccination status, infection rates and deaths among people with disability not readily available using existing administrative data sources. High quality data will be even more important in future as we seek to understand the longer term impacts on people with disability of the virus itself, the direct and indirect effects of the isolation requirements imposed in response to the virus, and the economic and social impacts of the shutdown.