What are the key data gaps?

People with disability in Australia brings together information from a range of national data sources to contribute to a greater understanding of disability in Australia. Although much is known about how people with disability experience daily life, critical data gaps remain. 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, both as victims and as offenders
  • how the experience of disability and support services varies by location or for vulnerable groups; such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+), 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 (within and outside of the NDIS)
  • the quality and sustainability of the disability workforce.

These gaps are largely a result of a mix of issues with existing data (such as inconsistent definitions across data sources and key data not being available for use or sharing), and data not being collected at all (such as in many mainstream data collections).

Opportunities to enhance the evidence base about people with disability include:

  • improving the quality and comparability of data across sources; such as by gaining agreement to adopt more consistent definitions across data collections where possible, or adding a disability ‘flag’ to mainstream data collections (an agreed set of questions to identify people with disability and the severity, or degree, of their disability)
  • maximising the use of existing data sources; for example by bringing together information from multiple data sources, such as in this report 
  • adding to available data sources to address priority data gaps; such by enhancing or adding data items to existing data collections, enabling data sharing and linkage of existing data, and creating new data collections or data assets.

These gaps and opportunities are not exhaustive, but are a starting point for future discussion. The AIHW continues to work with other statistical agencies and data custodians to maximise and streamline the collection of data about people with disability and to improve its quality.