Kymberly Martin

Productivity Commission Report on Disability Services

The Productivity Commission has released its 23rd annual Report on Government Services (RoCG). It covers 17 areas of government services including those for people with disability. The following is an excerpt from this report.

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In 2016‑17, total government expenditure on specialist disability services provided under the National Disability Agreement (NDA) was $7.8 billion, a decrease of 9.7 per cent from 2015‑16. Direct government expenditure on specialist disability services under the NDA (excluding expenditure on administration) was $7.3 billion in 2016‑17. The main areas of government expenditure were accommodation support services (51.1 per cent of total direct service expenditure) and community support (16.8 per cent of total direct service expenditure).Employment services were the main area of Australian Government expenditure (81.7 per cent). Total committed support to the NDIS for 2016‑17 was $3.2 billion.

Outlays on income support payments and allowances to people with disability and their carers in 2016‑17 (on an accrual basis) amounted to $24.5 billion, comprising $16.3 billion for the Disability Support Pension, $5.1 billion for the Carer Payment, $2.2 billion for the Carer Allowance, $95.8 million for the Sickness Allowance, $135.5 million for the Mobility Allowance, $180.5 million for the Child Disability Assistance Payment and $578.9 million for the Carer Supplement.

The ABS estimates that 4.3 million Australians or 18.3 per cent of the population had a disability in 2015 (for those aged under 65 years, this was 2.5 million Australians or 12.5 per cent of this age group), and an estimated 5.8 per cent had a profound or severe core activity limitation (for those aged under 65 years this was 3.6 per cent). These results are similar to 2012 and 2009. Males and females are similarly affected by disability (for all ages, 18.0 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively; for those aged under 65 years, 12.8 per cent and 12.4 per cent respectively), but this changes with age and severity of disability.

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In 2015‑16, 322 579 people were reported as using NDA disability services. The most commonly reported disability of NDA service users was a physical disability (32.9 per cent) followed by intellectual disability (29.0 per cent).

People aged 15–64 years with disability who received formal services in the previous six months, 78.7 per cent were satisfied with the quality of assistance they received and 49.2 per cent were satisfied with the range of services received. These figures were not significantly different from 2012. Nationally, the proportion of primary carers who were satisfied with the quality of services received was 73.4 per cent in 2015 compared to 69.0 per cent in 2012. However there was no significant change in satisfaction with the range of services received.

For people aged 15–64 years with a profound or severe core activity limitation, the labour force participation rate and the employment‑to‑population ratio decreased from 2009 (31.3 per cent and 28.0 per cent respectively) to 2015 (25.0 per cent and 21.6 per cent respectively), by around six percentage points. The unemployment rate of those with a profound or severe core activity limitation was 13.7 per cent in 2015; not significantly different from 2009.  

However, social participation outcomes have worsened over time. For people with disability aged 15–64 years, the proportion with a profound or severe core activity limitation who had face‑to‑face contact with ex‑household family or friends in the previous week decreased from 72.5 per cent in 2009 to 67.9 per cent in 2015 and who travelled to a social activity decreased from 88.2 per cent in 2009 to 82.4 per cent in 2015.

For people with disability aged 5–64 years, the proportion who reported the main reason for not leaving home as often as they would like increased from 12.7 per cent in 2009 to 15.7 per cent in 2015.

The use of mainstream services by people with disability is defined as the proportion of people with disability who sought access to mainstream services but unable to do so confidently, that is without experiencing difficulty or discrimination. Data is currently under investigation for reporting this indicator in the future.

 

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