An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) dataset released today shows 49 percent of people with disability are not satisfied or only somewhat satisfied with their life.
The number of Australians classified as having a severe or profound disability who were not satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their life was even higher at 74 percent.
By comparison, 31 percent of people without disability were not satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their life.
The data, from the AIHW’s annually updated People with Disability in Australia report, includes statistics across the life factors of health, social support, justice and safety, housing, education and skills, employment, income and finance.
Factors drawn from the data that could contribute to a person with disability’s lower level of satisfaction in life include health, wellbeing, financial stress, social isolation and lack of employment opportunities.
Adults with disability are six times more likely to assess their health as poor or just fair than those without disability.
Only 24 percent of people with disability say their health is excellent or very good, compared to 65 percent of people without a disability.
The data also showed that half of people with disability only received informal assistance when they needed health care, rather than the formal health care assistance needed, and many (one in four) thought they had to wait too long for a general practitioner (GP) appointment.
Long wait times, cost, inaccessible buildings, discrimination by health professionals and a lack of communication between treating health professionals were all seen as barriers to people with disability accessing health care.
Adults with a severe or profound disability, according to the data, are also 12 times more likely to experience a very high level of psychological distress than people without disability.
As many as a third of people with disability in general experience high levels of psychological distress, compared to only eight percent of people without disability, and those with disability are also twice as likely to experience social isolation as people without disability.
People with disability aged 15-64 were more than twice as likely to be experiencing financial stress as those without disability and only 48 percent are employed compared to 80 percent of people without disability.
Older Australians most likely to have disability but the NDIS won’t support them
The AIHW data shows about one in six Australians (18 percent) have a disability, which works out to 4.4 million people.
However, only about 520,000 are National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants due to eligibility requirements.
On top of that, only half of people over the age of 65 have a disability, but only one in seven older people with disability had the cause of their disability recorded as old age.
This means the majority of older people with disability could be missing out on NDIS funding for disability support because they were not under 65 when the Scheme was rolled out, or acquired their disability through injury or illness after turning 65.
The Disability Doesn’t Discriminate Campaign has been fighting to have people over the age of 65 made eligible for the NDIS, as Campaign members say there is not enough support for people who find themselves only eligible for aged care services.
National Campaign Manager of Disability Doesn’t Discriminate, David Margan, says the level of financial support provided by the aged care system is just too low compared to what the NDIS offers to allow participants to live a satisfying life.
“In aged care you would only get, even on the top [Home Care] Package, $52,000 a year when a new wheelchair on its own may cost $40,000 and your proper care could cost anywhere from $100.00 to $300,000 a year,” he says.
“Who among us have that sort of money?
“Disabled people in aged care get five times less support than people with comparable needs in the NDIS.”
While not all people over 65 with disability would meet the other eligibility criteria for the NDIS, Mr Margan says those with a “level 4” classification would.
“It’s estimated that currently 45,000 Australians with a Level 4 disability now languish in the aged care system, unable to get the help and support they need to not only cope with their disability but have the opportunity to live a reasonable life and continue to contribute to the community,” says Mr Margan.
Disability Doesn’t Discriminate campaigners are continuing to lobby the Government to change the NDIS eligibility criteria.
The movement already has the support of all the independent Members of Parliament, as well as the Greens Party.