Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) People with disability in Australia 2022: in brief, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 10 August 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). People with disability in Australia 2022: in brief. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia-2022-in-brief
People with disability in Australia 2022: in brief. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 05 July 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia-2022-in-brief
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. People with disability in Australia 2022: in brief [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Aug. 10]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia-2022-in-brief
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, People with disability in Australia 2022: in brief, viewed 10 August 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia-2022-in-brief
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Many people, including those with disability, use social support services intermittently throughout life – if and when the need arises. Others need long-term support to help them fully participate in all facets of life.
What is meant by social support?
In this report, social support refers to government-funded support provided by specialist disability services and aged care services. However, social support can also be considered more broadly than this, and may include, for example, income support, housing assistance and homelessness support.
Specialist disability support services are designed to help people with disability participate fully in all aspects of everyday life. They may supplement other support a person receives – such as that provided by mainstream services, the community or informal carers.
What are specialist disability support services?
Specialist disability support services may include:
Specialist disability support services are primarily aimed at people aged under 65, but support is also available to those aged 65 and over, provided they meet eligibility requirements.
Government-funded specialist disability support services are now largely provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Most people using services under the former National Disability Agreement (NDA) have transitioned to the NDIS, except for those using open employment services.
Specialist disability support services are now largely provided through the NDIS.
NDIS participants (at 31 March 2022)(a)
Number of active participants
Of active participants:
Aged 14 and under
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander(b)
Autism primary disability
Intellectual(c) primary disability
Psychosocial primary disability
(a) Active participants with approved plans.
(b) Excluding ’Not stated’ or ‘other’.
(c) Including Down syndrome.
Do people get the help they need?
Based on self-reported survey data, an estimated 40% of people with disability living in households need assistance from formal service providers. Most of these (86%) receive some formal support. For those receiving formal assistance, providers are most often private commercial organisations (for 61% of those receiving formal assistance) or government providers (46%) (2018). (People may receive support from more than one provider.)
The majority of people with disability aged 15 and over who receive formal assistance are satisfied with the quality of service (82%) and the range of services available (73%) (of those people whose level of satisfaction could be determined) (2018).
These data are provided for context and are not intended to evaluate specialist service provision under the NDIS. It is important to note the following: the latest available survey data are for 2018, which was part-way through the NDIS roll-out; not all formal services are specialist disability support services; and formal services may or may not receive government funding.
NDIS outcomes framework
The NDIS outcomes framework questionnaires collect information on 8 life domains from participants, their families and their carers, and provide some measures of the medium- to long-term benefits to participants. This includes asking whether the NDIS has helped with various aspects of life. For example, by 31 March 2022, for participants who have been in the NDIS for at least 2 years:
For more information, including breakdowns by sex, age and other intersectional cohorts, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.
Government-subsidised aged care in Australia is provided on the basis of need, rather than age. Sometimes even very young people live in permanent residential aged care. This can reflect the unavailability of other support services, rather than the suitability of permanent residential aged care to meet these people’s needs. Generally, younger people are considered to be better served by other services to provide for their long‑term needs.
At December 2021, 3,440 younger people (aged under 65) were living in permanent residential aged care in Australia. This was a significant decrease from 4,860 at 30 June 2020.
Of the younger people in permanent residential aged care at 30 June 2020:
How is the level of need for help determined?
The Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) level is used to categorise the level of help needed by each person in residential aged care. It is used to assess a person’s need for support with activities of daily living, behaviour, and complex health care. For each of these 3 domains, the person is assigned an ACFI level of need of high, medium, low or nil.
The Activities of Daily Living Domain covers need for help with nutrition, mobility, personal hygiene, toileting, and continence. The Behaviour Domain covers cognitive skills, wandering, verbal behaviour, physical behaviour, and depression. The Complex Health Care Domain covers the administration of medicines and health-care procedures.
People with disability may face various barriers to participation in society that can lead to lower social participation rates and greater risk of isolation and loneliness than those experienced by without disability.
Among people with disability:
How is social isolation determined?
As part of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, respondents are asked 10 questions about the amount of social support available to them. The responses are used to calculate an index for reporting on social isolation.
For more information, including breakdowns by sex and age, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.
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