Social support

Australia has a wide range of social support services to help people in times of need. Services are provided by government and non-government organisations, professionals and volunteers.

Many people, including those with disability, use these services intermittently throughout their life – for example, in times of unemployment, relationship breakdown or housing crisis. Others may need longer-term support to participate fully in all facets of life.

In this domain, social support refers to government-funded support provided by specialist disability services and aged care services, and informal support enabling social inclusion. However, social support can include many other aspects, such as housing assistance and income support (see Housing assistance and Income support for more information).

Summary card 1 showing key statistics for specialist disability services: The card shows that around 519,000 people are active NDIS participants with approved plans (at 31 March 2020). Of them:

  • around 4 in 10 (41%) are aged 14 and under
  • more than 3 in 5 (62%) are male
  • the most common disability groups are autism (34%), intellectual disability including Down syndrome (18%), and psychosocial disability (11%)
  • around 2,700 NDIS participants are aged under 65 and in residential aged care.

Summary card 2 showing key statistics for younger people in residential aged care. The card shows that around 4,900 people aged 65 are in permanent residential aged care (at 30 June 2020). Of these, 357 (7%) are aged 49 and under, 1,793 (37%) are aged 50-59, and 2,710 (56%) are aged 60-64.

Summary card 3 showing key statistics for social inclusion. The card shows that over 1 in 6 people with disability experience social isolation, compared with 1 in 12 people without disability. This varies by disability group: 31% of people with psychosocial disability and 23% of people with intellectual disability experience social isolation.