People with disability use a range of mainstream health services—such as GPs, medical specialists and dentists. Some experience difficulties in accessing these services, such as unacceptable or lengthy waiting times, cost, inaccessibility of buildings, and discrimination by health professionals.
Like all Australians, people with disability have health-care needs, access health services to meet them, and have varying health-related experiences. This web report uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) to examine access to a range of health services by people with disability aged under 65 who lived in the community.
- 1 in 8 people with disability aged under 65 who needed help with health-care had no source of assistance
- 1 in 5 people with disability aged under 65 delayed or did not see a GP because of the cost
- 2 in 5 people with disability aged under 65 had difficulty accessing medical facilities (GP, dentist, hospital)
- 1 in 6 people with disability aged under 65 experienced discrimination by health staff (GP, nurse, hospital staff)
The ABS Survey of Disability Ageing and Carers (SDAC)
In the SDAC, a person is considered to have disability if they have at least one of a list of limitations, restrictions or impairments, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months, and restricts everyday activities. The severity of disability is further defined according to the degree of assistance or supervision required in core activities—self-care, mobility, and communication—and grouped for mild, moderate, severe, and profound limitation. People with disability can also be identified as having a schooling or employment restriction.
The health experience data in the SDAC is collected from people with disability living in households (also referred to here as living in the community), and excludes those living in cared accommodation (such as residential aged care). Most people with disability living in cared accommodation had severe or profound core activity limitation, and most were older. Older people and those with more severe disability are more likely to require health-care. To minimise bias and to be consistent with national policy age ranges, this report focuses on the health experiences of people with disability aged under 65.
The coverage of the SDAC does not include people living in very remote areas and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and, as such, it may underestimate the prevalence of Indigenous disability and the prevalence of disability in very remote areas.
SOURCE: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. “Access to Health Services by Australians with Disability.” AIHW Web report, 1 December 2017.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia