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People with a disability

Home > Publications and Resources > People with a disability

Key facts

Population information

  • Four million people in Australia (18.5% or almost one in five) had a disability in 2009.
    Disability: any limitation, restriction or impairment, which lasts for at least six months and restricts everyday activities)
  • Of these 1.2 million Australians (equivalent to the total population of a city the size of Adelaide) reported a profound or severe limitation in the core activities.
    (Core activity: activities such as self-care (eating, washing, dressing, toileting), mobility or communication)
  • In 2009, there were 2.6 million carers who provided assistance to those who needed help because of disability or old age.
  • Just under one third of these (29%) were primary carers while over two-thirds of primary carers (68%) were women.

Involvement in the arts

  • People with a disability have lower attendance rates at cultural and leisure venues than the general population and for people with core activity limitations attendance is lower still.
  • In 2006, only 20.5% of people with a disability and a core activity limitation attended an art gallery compared to 30.0% of the general population.
  • Similar lower rates of attendance were experienced for museums (22.5% vs 29.2%), theatre (14.4% vs 24.8%) dance (10.8% vs 17.9%), musicals (17.9% vs 25.1%) and libraries (40.4% vs 48.0%).

Links to data

Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary Of Findings 4430.0 (external site) - summary of results from the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2009

Social Participation of People with a Disability, 2011, 4439.0 (external site) ABS summary of data drawn from the General Social Survey (GSS) 2006, which surveyed attendance at selected cultural venues by people with a disability

Don't give up your day job: an economic study of professional artists in Australia (external site) - an economic study of professional artistic practice across major artforms (2002)

Further information

National Arts and Disability Strategy (external site) - sets a vision for improving access and participation in artistic and cultural activities for people with disabilities.

Access Arts Queensland (external site) - peak body working with artists, cultural workers and their communities across Queensland. It delivers professional arts and cultural services to Queensland to people and communities who experience disability and disadvantage.

Arts Access Australia (external site) - national body representing a network of State and Territory arts and disability organisations and individuals.

Australia Council for the Arts (external site) - Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body has statistical information and practical guides for people and artists with a disability.

Companion Card (external site) - supports people with a disability and their carers to participate in arts and cultural activities by providing free admission to carers.