Proportion of people with disability drops

NEARLY one in five Australians has a disability, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found.

The latest figures on disability, from 2009, show 18.5% of the population had a disability, a decrease of 1.5% compared to 2003.

In the report Disability, Australia 2009, the ABS said the main disabling conditions were back problems (15.9%) and arthritis (14.8%) with 2.9% having severe disabilities of all types requiring constant assistance for mobility and self-care.

“Little improvement has been made in key areas of everyday life over the last six years,” the ABS said.

It cited low rates of work participation of around 54%, compared to 90% for people without a disability.

In a separate report, the ABS said Australia had 2.6 million carers looking after people as a result of either disability or old age.