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What are disabilities?

(Source: World Health Organisation (WHO))

"Loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function".
"Any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being".
"A disadvantage for a given individual resulting from an impairment or disAbility that limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex, social and cultural factors) for that individual".
Refers to the medical description of a specific abnormality of psychological, physiological function and/or anatomical structure. (This definition is commonly used as an alternative to the WHO definition of impairment).

Facts and Statistics

  • In 1998, it was estimated that 3.6 million people or 19% of the Australian population had a disability. This is an increase from 15% in 1981.
  • It was estimated that 2.3 million people were aged 65 years or more. Of these, 54% had a disability and 82% had profound core activity restriction (they required assistance with self-care, mobility or communication).
  • 393,500 people in Australia experience sensory impairment involving their eyes and/or ears.
  • 39,600 people are living with difficulties following head injury/brain damage.
  • Respiratory diseases, including asthma, affect 259,700 people in Australia.
  • 15% of people with a disability identify a mental or behavioural disorder as their main condition.
  • 447,900 people are primary carers (those who provide the most care for people with a disability, in the areas of self-care, mobility or verbal communication) representing 3.1% of the Australian population aged 15 years or more.

Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings Australia, 1998 (ABS) (Catalogue # 4430.0)