Stats and Facts

Over 4 million Australians have a disability. That's 1 in 5 people.

1 in 3 people either has disability or is likely to be close to someone who has disability.

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

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].

Around 668,100 Australians have intellectual and/or development disorders [4].

An estimated 10% of the population has dyslexia. That’s more than two million Australians.

45% of the population will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime [5].

Almost 90% of disabilities are not visible.

Five figures_one with disability

Definition of Disability

A disability is any condition that restricts a person's mental, sensory or mobility functions. It could 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?

Employment of People with Disability

In 2009, 54.3% of people with a disability participated in the labour force compared to 83% of people without a disability.

Australia ranks 21 out of 29 OECD countries for labour force participation of people with disability [1].

Graduates with disability take longer to gain full-time work than other graduates [2].

People with disability have an employment rate of 39.8%, compared to 79.4% for people without a disability [3].

Two-thirds of people with disability earn less than $320 per week, compared with one-third of the general population [4].

15% of Australians of working age (15-64 years) have a disability.

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.

78% of people with disability acquire their disability aged 16 years or older.

39% of complaints lodged with Australian Human Rights Commission are against businesses and related to disability

Australia ranks 27 out of 27 OECD countries for people with disability living in or near poverty (45% compared to 22% average)[5].


Source: except where stated otherwise, data is taken from Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, 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] Intellectual disability in children is associated with the presence of intellectual and development disorders and autism spectrum disorders. In adults, it is predominantly associated with Alzheimer's disease and Dementia. Source: Intellectual Disability, Australia 2012, Australian Bureau of Statistics

[5] Mental health disorders and mental illness are among the greatest causes of disability, diminished quality of life, and reduced productivity. People affected by mental illness often have high levels of morbidity and mortality, experience poorer general health and higher rates of death from a range of causes, including suicide.


[1] Sickness, disability and work: Keeping on track in the economic downturn – Background paper. OECD. (2009).

[[2] Grad Stats Dec 2011, Graduate Careers Australia.

[3] Disability in Australia, Price Waterhouse Coopers, p.42.

[4] Ibid, p.16.

[5] Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers - A Synthesis of Findings across OECD Countries. OECD. (2010).