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Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2007

Part Two of this report produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, contains a selection of data on disability and activity limitation among young Australians (see PDF). These data were taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 2003 Survey of disability, ageing and carers (SDAC).

Selected findings

In 2003:

  • Approximately 249,300 young Australians aged 12–24 years had a disability. This equates to 8.9% of the total population for that age group (young males and young females with a disability comprised 9% and 8.9% of their population by age and sex respectively).
  • The main causes of disability among young people were intellectual/mental disorders (20% of all disabling conditions), psychiatric disorders (18%), musculoskeletal disorders (14%), respiratory diseases (9%) and neurological conditions (9%).
  • Approximately 1 in 4 young Australians with a disability (2% of all young Australians) had severe or profound core activity limitation as a result of their disability. A similar proportion of males and females had severe or profound core activity limitation.
  • Young Australians aged 20–24 years with a disability were less likely than their peers without a disability to have completed Year 12 (67% compared with 83%).
  • As a result of their disability, approximately 8% of young Australians aged 15–24 years with a disability were permanently unable to work, 43% faced restrictions in the type of work that they were able to do, 33% had difficulty changing jobs or finding a preferred job, 21% could only work a limited number of hours and 11% required at least one day off per week.
  • Around 40% of young Australians with a disability reported having no employment restrictions due to their disability.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2007, Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2007, AIHW, Canberra [viewed 13/06/07].

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The Living History project, 1981-2002

'It is now more than 20 years since the International Year for Disabled Persons (IYDP 1981), a year that promised a social revolution for people with disabilities. So, what has happened in that period and what has been achieved in Victoria since that time?'

The Living History project, 1982-2002: The lived experiences of people with disability and parents of people with disability in the period 1981–2002, by Ruth Quibell, published 2004.

Availalbe in PDF, Audio formats or request a print copy.

Source: Scope (formerly the Spastic Centre), Headway Victoria and the Association for Children with a Disability.

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Disability among Australian young people, 1998

This information is derived from the 1998 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. Based on the ABS definition of disability, as 'the presence of one or more of 17 restrictions, limitations or impairments that had lasted, or that were likely to last, for a period of 6 months or more', it was estimated that approximately 230,200 young people aged 15–24 years had a disability (9%).

79% had a specific restriction. Specific restriction was lower among young people aged 15–19 years than those aged 20–24 years.

Hearing and sight impairments, 1998

Hearing impairments are more common than visual impairments among young people aged 15–24 years. In 1998, approximately 17,000 young people were reported as having some form of hearing impairment.

Hearing impairments:Of all young people aged 15–24 years:

  • Reported as having some form of hearing impairment: just over 0.6%.
  • Total loss of hearing: 0.9%.
  • Partial loss of hearing: 0.6%.
  • In the 20–24 age group overall hearing impairment was slightly higher: 0.7% compared with 0.6%.

Sight impairments:
Approximately 13,400 young people were estimated to have some form of visual impairment – 55% were males.

All visual impairment among surveyed young people aged 15–24 years was due to partial loss of vision – 0.5% of all young people. Visual impairment was highest among those aged 20-24 years, irrespective of sex.
The visual impairment rate was slightly higher among males than females.

Effect of disability on schooling

  • Percentage of young people aged 15–24 years with a disability who attended mainstream schools: 89% – 72% attended normal classes and 17% attended special classes.
  • Percentage of young people with a disability reported to have difficulties at school because of their disability: around 56%.
  • Most frequently reported difficulty at school: fitting in socially (approx. 25% of young people with a disability attending school were reported as having this difficulty).
  • Percentage of young people needing time off school because of their disability: about 10%.

Source: AIHW Australia's young people: their health and well being, 2003. AIHW Cat. No. PHE 50. Canberra: AIHW. PDF version [viewed 25/01/2007].

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Young people with disabilities in WA, 1998

Number of young Western Australians (12-25) with disabilities, 1998: 29,100 (8%)
...males: 63%
...females: 37%

Cause/type of disability, 1998:
...physical, including respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders: 68% (19,900)
...mental or behavioural disorder: 32% (9,200)

Number of young people in WA with a disability who in 1998 required assistance with core activities, health care, transport, light property management, or paperwork: 29%
...who received the help they required: 64%
...who had their need for assistance partly met: 17%
... who did not receive any assistance: 19%

Table 1: Severity of disability of Western Australian young people aged 12 to 25 years, 1998

Level of specific restriction No. of young people % of WA population aged 12-25 years % of young people with disabiliites
Profound/severe 3,900* 1.0% 13%
Moderate 2,300* 0.6% 8%
Mild 6,900 1.8% 24%
Schooling and employment 13,800 3.7% 47%
Total persons with specific restrictions (a) 18,800 5.0% 65%
Persons with disability but without specific restrictions 10,300 2.7% 35%
Persons with a disability 29,100 7.8% 100%
(a) total may be less than the sum of components as persons may have both core activitiy restrictions and schooling or employment restrictions.
*Subject to sampling variability between 25% and 50%.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary Tables Western Australia, 1998, unpublished data.

Labour force participation rate for young people (15-25) with disabilities, WA, 1998: 70% (general youth population: 74%).
...Percent of disabled young people in the labour force who were unemployed: 20% (13% for general youth population).

Number of students with disabilities in secondary education, WA, Semester 2, 1998: 1,960
... with intellectual disabilities: 57%
... physical disabilities: 17%
... hearing disabilities: 12%
... visual disabilities: 10%
... autism: 3%
... language disabilities: 1%
Source: Western Australian Department for Community Development - Youth Affairs, 2000, Youth Facts WA: Young people with disabilities.

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