Thousands Still Using Disability Support Services – Report
9 June 2016 at 9:35 am
Almost 334,000 people used disability support services in 2014/15 under the National Disability Agreement (NDA) with another 4000 already transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to a new report.
However, while the report, Disability support services: services provided under the National Disability Agreement 2014–15, showed that overall demand grew, proportionally, the use of most service groups remained stable.
AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury said they had been following the data for more than 10 years and there were “no surprises”.
“It is following a pattern,” Cooper-Stanbury told Pro Bono Australia News.
“Our data shows that overall demand has grown slightly but proportionately we haven’t seen any change in the mix of services.
“So the largest group is community support, so that is for things like therapies and other things that enable people to live as independently as possible, the next biggest one is employment services, so that’s mostly helping people with disability obtain and retain employment in the open employment sector, the open market, and then there is a small group who have specialised disability support employment.”
Cooper-Stanbury said the data was important as it gave a picture of what support was actually being provided.
“This is helping us fill in some of the puzzle between what people express as their needs, so their needs for disability support, and this is the picture on what is actually provided, so it helps with the planning and the understanding of the relationship between need and supply and those sorts of things,” he said.
“This collection alone can’t tell us whether that demand is being met, what the data does show is that the number of users is not going down, it is going up, despite the ramp up of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), so the capacity of the system is definitely expanding and that is course one of the objectives of the NDIS.”
According to the report, community support was used by 45 per cent of service users.
Other findings revealed the majority of users (59 per cent), were male and were generally younger than their female counterpart – with an average age of just over 32 for men and just under 38 for women.
Around three-quarters (73 per cent) of service users were aged under 50, with just 6 per cent of service users aged 65 and over.
“The average age of service users was 35, with close to three-quarters (73 per cent) of users under 50. Many also rely on informal carers, with about two-thirds of NDA service users having an informal carer – most often their mother (72 per cent),” Cooper-Stanbury said.
The most common form of disability was intellectual or learning disability (44 per cent of service users) followed by physical or diverse disability (41 per cent), psychiatric disability (29 per cent) and sensory or speech disability (18 per cent).
According to the report, services provided under the NDA, which has governed the provision of disability support services in Australia since 1991, still form the basis of national data with most service users currently receiving support under the NDA.
However, the data showed that around 1,900 NDA service users transitioned to the NDIS during the year.
As the transition to the NDIS continues, Cooper-Stanbury said these data will provide important contextual information to inform the changes.
“Each year since 2013/14, around 1 per cent of service users transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Over time, it is expected that many of the services provided under the NDA will transition into the NDIS,” said Cooper-Stanbury.
“We’ve only seen out of our 330,000 users, only about 4,000 transition to the NDIS… but all the jurisdictions are ramping up from this year onwards, with the exception of the ACT which is coming to the end of its transition program. We were the first jurisdiction to go full scale over a two-year period and we are now seeing some of the bigger jurisdictions start from this July, so we will probably lose a lot more our of our collection in this next year and then more the year after.”