Fast facts on disability

Fast facts on disability

18.6% of the population have a disability, which equates to approximately 4.2 million people.i

  • People with a disability are more likely to experience poverty, live in poor quality or insecure housing and have low levels of education. They are often socially isolated, with fewer opportunities to take part in community life.ii
  • People with a disability are twice as likely to be in the bottom 20% of gross household incomes.iii
  • Overall employment rates for people with disabilities remain low, with workforce participation at around 54 per cent compared to 83 per cent for people without disabilities.iv

Intellectual disability*

  • Almost 3% of the population (668,100) have an intellectual disability.
  • In 2012, around 567,000 people with an intellectual disability needed assistance with at least one activity.
  • The majority of people with an intellectual disability (62%) had a profound or severe core-activity limitation, which meant they always or sometimes needed help with mobility, self-care or communication.
  • In 2012 around 440,100 people with an intellectual disability received assistance with activities of daily living. Most of these people received assistance from informal carers (344,100 people).
  • For adults with an intellectual disability receiving assistance, parents were the most common provider of assistance (35%).
  • People who receive assistance with the any of the three core activities (communication, self-care and mobility) from a family member or friend were asked to nominate the person who provides the highest level of informal care to them – in two-thirds (66%) of cases that primary carer was the person's parent.
  • The unemployment rate for people with intellectual disability was significantly higher (20%) than the unemployment rates for people with other types of disability (8%) and people with no disability (5%).

i Australian Bureau of Statistic’s (ABS), Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (SDAC) 2012

ii World Health Organization and World Bank Group, World report on disability (2011)

iii ABS, Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (SDAC) 2012

iv ABS, 4446.0 Disability (Labour Force), Australia, 2009 (May 2011).

* All stats from ABS, Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (SDAC) 2012


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