People with disability in Australia

Like all Australians, people with disability interact with every aspect of Australian life, across a multitude of social policy and program areas (for example, health, social support, education, employment, housing and justice). Some, however, face challenges routinely and actively participating in these everyday activities of life.

How people with disability participate in society is influenced by factors such as the severity of their disability, the availability of services, the accessibility of their environment, and by community attitudes and discrimination.

What is disability?

Disability is an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions; all of which can interact with a person’s health condition(s) and environmental and/or individual factors.

There are varying degrees of disability—from having no impairment or limitation to a complete loss of functioning. It can be the result of genetic disorders, illnesses, accidents, ageing or a combination of these factors.

What is meant by impairment?

An impairment refers to problems in body function or structure (including mental functions), such as loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of a limb, impairment of mood or emotion, impairment of speech, and any other lack of function of body organs.

What is meant by activity limitation?

An activity limitation refers to difficulties in executing everyday activities, such as self-care, mobility, communication, cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, reading or writing tasks, transport, household chores, property maintenance or meal preparation. Self-care, mobility and communication are sometimes referred to as core activities. In this report, people who always or sometimes need help with 1 or more core activities are referred to people with severe or profound disability.

What is meant by participation restriction?

A participation restriction refers to problems a person may experience in involvement in life situations, such as in education or employment.