Stats and Facts

Definition of Disability

A disability is any condition that restricts a person's mental, sensory or mobility functions. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. A disability may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible. See our page What is Disability.


Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That's 1 in 5 people.

19% of men, and 18% of women have disability.

43% of people over 55 years have one or more disabilities.

2.2 million Australians of working age (15 – 64 years) have disability.

People with disability are twice as likely to be in the bottom 20% of gross household incomes.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2012.

Types of Disability

3.4 million (15%) Australians have a physical disability [1].

1 in 6 Australians are affected by hearing loss. There are approximately 30,000 Deaf Auslan users with total hearing loss [2].

Vision Australia estimates there are currently
357,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision [3].

An estimated 10% of the population has dyslexia. That’s more than two million Australians (Source: Dyslexia Australia).

45% of the population will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime.


Five figures_one with disability


Employment of People with Disability

People aged between 15 and 64 years with disability have both lower participation (53%) and higher unemployment rates (9.4%) than people without disability (83% and 4.9% respectively).

Australia’s employment rate for on people with disability (47.75% in 2012) is on par with developed countries like Canada (49% in 2011), United Kingdom (48.9% in 2012), Luxembourg (48% in 2011), New Zealand (45% in 2013), Denmark (43.90% in 2013), Norway (43% in 2013).

The countries reporting the highest employment rates of people with disability are Switzerland (69% in 2011), Austria (67% in 2011), Sweden (62% in 2008), France (53% in 2012), Germany (52% in 2009).

Graduates with disability take longer to gain fulltime employment than other graduates [4].


Other disability statistics

The likelihood of living with disability increases with age; 31% of 55-64 year olds are living with disability. Almost nine in ten people aged 90 and over (88%) have a disability.

39% of complaints lodged with Australian Human Rights Commission are against businesses and related to disability (Source: Australian Human Rights Commission).

Source: except where stated otherwise, data is taken from Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC).


[1] Around 3.4 million Australians (15%) have a physical disability – such as respiratory disorders (eg asthma), neurological disorders (eg MS, cerebral palsy or epilepsy), musculoskeletal disorders (eg arthritis or spinal injuries, immunological disorders (eg HIV/AIDS), diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.

[2] Projections for 2050 indicate that one in every four Australians will have hearing loss. 90% of people born with hearing impairment are born into hearing families.

[3] Vision Australia projects that the number of Australians who are blind or have low vision will grow to 564,000 by 2030. (Refractive error not included).

[4] Grad Stats Dec 2011, Graduate Careers Australia