The use of disability services in Australia is continuing to rise, with a total increase of 7 per cent over the 2010-11 period according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).


The Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2010-11 report provides information on services aimed at improving the lives of those people living with disability and their carers.


The report found that 314,000 people used disability support services in the 2010-11 period, representing a 7 per cent rise in service users compared with the previous year.


“Indeed the number of service users has been rising for some time, with a 45% rise from 2005-06 to 2010-11,” said AIHW spokesperson Brent Diverty.


“The rate of service use also rose, from about 1 in 94 people in the Australian population in 2005-06 to 1 in 71 people in 2010-11.”


The report found that the use of disability employment services showed the highest rate of increase, with  34% of service users used employment services in 2005-06, rising to 41% of service users in 2010-11.


In 2010-11, service users most often had an intellectual (30%), psychiatric (20%) or physical disability (17%).  Most service users needed some assistance in the activities of daily living (52%); the activities of independent living (60%); and the activities of work, education and community living (57%).


“The median age of service user was 33, and most (59%) service users were male,” Mr Diverty said.


“Most service users were born in Australia (82%) and 6% of service users aged under 65 identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.”


Spending on disability support services in Australia is also increasing, rising in real terms by 2% to $6.2 billion between 2009-10 and 2010-11. However, spending per service user fell by 4-6% for most types of services over the same period.


The full report can be found here