Notes on the data: Disability
Profound or severe, moderate or mild core activity limitation by sex and broad age group: 0-14, 15-64, 65+ years and all ages, 2018 (modelled estimates)
Policy context: Over 1.2 million people (5.0%) in Australia are estimated to have a profound or severe disability and were living in households and over 2.1 million people (8.6%) living in households are estimated to have a moderate or mild disability in the 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers .
The likelihood of disability generally increases with age, but can also reflect people’s life cycle, their changing environments and the risks they encounter . Focusing on the age-specific prevalence rates of a severe or profound limitation, the peak in early childhood and school years may reflect the effects of early intervention services and the school environment on the identification of disability . Young adulthood may see the onset of psychiatric disabilities. From age 35, disability prevalence rates increase with age, as risk of injury, including work-related injuries, becomes relatively high. Late working-age years may also see the onset of musculoskeletal and other conditions such as arthritis and heart disease associated with physical disabilities. For people at older ages, limitations in functioning are more likely to be associated with diseases and long-term conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, dementia, arthritis, and hearing and vision impairments .
Community-based services provide support for older people with additional needs who live at home or with their family. Such services, if effective, enable these people to remain in the community (in these estimates, shown as living in households) - an important alternative to institutional care.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2018. (ABS Cat. No. 4430.0). Canberra: ABS; 2019.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australia’s welfare 2007. (AIHW Cat. no. AUS 93). Canberra: AIHW; 2007.
Notes: These data form part of the information in the Social Health Atlas of people with disability, and their access to services. This data set is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers; the associated data sets are of participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme; and data from the 2021 Census (of the number of people providing unpaid assistance to people with a disability and the number of people with a profound or severe disability, by age and whether living in long-term residential accommodation, or in households).
Modelled estimates were produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s) and were then grouped to produce Population Health Areas (PHAs) by the Population Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU). The ABS also published these estimates by Local Government Area (LGA).
The modelled estimates can be used for getting a picture of the likely distribution of people with the characteristics of interest, across areas. Users should not expect the modelled counts and proportions to be appropriate for every area. Some regions will differ in prevalence from modelled estimates because of local effects that are not captured by the models. The modelled estimates are a tool which when used in conjunction with an understanding of local area characteristics and their quality limitations, they can assist in making decisions on issues, such as the requirement for services, relevant to disability and aged care at the small area level.
Modelled estimates in this workbook are for usual residents, living in households in Australia, excluding foreign diplomats and their families. Areas were not published if more than 20% of their total population were living in very remote areas of Australia or Indigenous Communities. Areas with populations under 100 were also not published.
See the explanatory notes for more details on scope (e.g. inclusions/exclusions).
The ABS used a number of methods to measure the quality of the estimates, one of which is the relative root mean squared error (RRMSE) of the modelled estimates. The RRMSEs are included with the data. Users are advised that:
- estimates with RRMSEs less than 0.25 are considered reliable for most purposes;
- estimates with RRMSEs from 0.25 and to 0.50 have been marked (~) to indicate that they should be used with caution;
- estimates with RRMSEs from 0.50 and to 1 are marked (~~) to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for general use; and
- those greater than 1 have been replaced with (≠) and the estimate confidentialised to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for use.
These data refer to persons with a profound or severe, or moderate or mild core activity limitation living in households in private dwellings and self-care retirement units in retirement villages.
Profound or severe core activity limitation refers to a person who:
- is unable to or will sometimes require help with a core activity task;
- has difficulty understanding/being understood by family or friends; or
- can communicate more easily using sign language or other non-spoken forms of communication.
Moderate or mild core activity limitation refers to a person who has difficulty with a core activity task but doesn’t require help, or:
- uses aids or equipment for core tasks, or has one or more of the following limitations;
- cannot easily walk 200 metres;
- cannot walk up and down stairs without a handrail;
- cannot easily bend to pick up an object from the floor;
- cannot use public transport; or
- can use public transport, but has difficulty or needs help or supervision.
For more information refer to the Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings methodology, explanatory notes.
Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area and Primary Health Network
- Estimated number of male/ female/ total population, living in households, with profound or severe core activity limitation by all ages and broad age group: 0-14, 15-64, 65+ years
- Estimated number of male/ female/ total population, living in households, with moderate or mild core activity limitation by all ages and broad age group: 0-14, 15-64, 65+ years
Denominator: Male/ Female/ Total population by all ages and broad age group: 0-14, 15-64 and 65+ years
Detail of analysis: Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard
Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers modelled estimates data (ABS cat. no. 4430.0).