Existing data sources and challenges

Many sources of data exist on people with disability. Each source has varying degrees of accessibility, quality and usefulness. Some sources, for example, are not widely available for use and some are only useful if linked to another source.

This report uses multiple data sources to shed light on the experience of people with disability in Australia (see Table 1). While these data sources provide a broad overview of the experiences of people with disability, critical information gaps and/or questions to be answered or further explored remain.

Table 1: Key data sources used in this report

Survey/census data

Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), Department of Employment and Training (DET)

Life Tables, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

Multi-agency Data Integration Project, ABS

National Social Housing Survey, AIHW

National Health Survey (NHS), ABS

Personal Safety Survey (PSS), ABS

Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), ABS

Administrative data

Australian Human Rights Commission 2017–18 Complaint statistics, Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Department of Human Services administrative income support data, Department of Human Services (DHS)

Australian Government Housing Data Set, Department of Social Services (DSS)

Disability Services National Minimum Data Set, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

Higher Education Student Data Collection, DET

National Aged Care Data Clearinghouse, AIHW

Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability, DET

National Disability Insurance Scheme data, National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

National Housing Assistance Data Repository, AIHW

Research and Evaluation Database, DSS

Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, AIHW

Total Vocational Education and Training (VET) Students and Courses Collection, National Centre for Vocational Education Research’s (NCVER)

What are the key challenges with existing data sources?

Key data challenges with existing data sources include:

  • inconsistent definitions of disability across data sources
  • poor adoption of a disability flag to identify people with disability across mainstream data sources
  • fragmented, dispersed and incomplete data about services used by people with disability (specialist and mainstream)
  • inability to reliably report on specific population groups within the broader disability population
  • availability of relevant data collected but not collated or otherwise available for statistical purposes
  • limited integration of data across settings and life area domains to examine pathways and outcomes for people with disability.

What main questions cannot be answered?

While data exist on many aspects of what life is like for people with disability in Australia, critical gaps make it difficult to comprehensively answer some questions, particularly across service systems.

For example, there is a lack of information on:

  • what services people with disability use (across mainstream and specialist areas), and how coordinated, timely and effective they are
  • how much contact people with disability have with the justice and child protection systems, as victims and as offenders
  • how the experience of disability and support services varies by location or for vulnerable groups, such as LGBTQI+ community, Indigenous, and remote populations
  • the pathways, impacts and outcomes for people with disability, for example, how successful is the transition from school to further education or employment
  • unmet need for services (both within and outside of the NDIS)
  • the quality and sustainability of the disability workforce.