An increasing number of Australians are making use of a wide range of disability services, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The institute’s ‘Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2012-13’ report reveals that an estimated 312,539 Australians made use of disability support services in the indicated time period. This figure represents a growth in the number of service users of 12 per cent in the five years to 2012-13.
AIHW Spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear said the report provides crucial insight for the Australian healthcare industry, especially in light of the recent rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“The report provides important contextual and baseline information as the disability policy and service delivery environment continues to evolve, particularly with the implementation of the [NDIS] in 2013-14,” she said.
According to the report, almost a third (32 per cent) of service users were those with an intellectual disability, making it the largest reported disability group. They were followed by those with physical (30 per cent) and psychiatric (27 per cent) disabilities.
In terms of the areas of life in which service users needed assistance, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) said they required help in the “activities of independent living”. A similar proportion (61 per cent) needed assistance with education and community living, and over half (55 per cent) with the activities of daily living.
A large number of users needed assistance in more than one of these broad areas.
With the increased demand for disability support, it is not surprising that spending on these services has increased. The report reveals that expenditure on disability support services increased to $7.2 billion in 2012-13 – marking growth of 23 per cent since 2008-09.