New disability statistics show continuing need for access

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Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:35am

In 2012, there were 4.2 million Australians with a disability, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics survey results released yesterday. The results highlight the significance of access services for the Australian population.

The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers shows that the percentage of Australians with a disability has remained steady since at 18.5 per cent since the survey was last conducted in 2009.

“The size of this group as part of the Australian population underlines the importance of governments and organisations making accessibility considerations an integral part of their processes, whether in terms of media broadcast or production, their employment policies and support, or in relation to their websites and communications,” said Alex Varley, CEO of Media Access Australia.

“The survey also confirmed the increasing incidence of disability as our population ages, with, for example, 39.5 per cent of Australians aged 65-69 with disability, as opposed to 7.8 per cent for 15-24 year olds. Organisations and governments are getting the message that this group is significant in terms of numbers, need to access services and spending power, and that they need to cater to their needs,” Varley said.

The survey also found that has been no increase in the labour force participation rate by people with disability, with just over half of people with disability aged between 15 and 64 participating in the labour force in 2012 compared to 4 in every 5 people without disability.

There has been an improvement in the number of people with a disability completing the last year of high school (year 12), however it is still well behind that of the general population. Media Access Australia recently completed a study looking at one portion of this group, school students who are blind or vision impaired, and how their needs can be more systematically addressed.

The ABS also notes that there was a smaller proportion of people living with disability in Australia's major cities than in regional areas (17 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively), an important distinction for policy makers to note, considering the relative lack of services often found in regional areas.

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