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Research Report: The legal needs of people with chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11
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The legal needs of people with chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11  ( 2009 )  Cite this report



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Description of participants with a disability


The demographic characteristics of the 508 participants with a disability were compared with the 1917 participants without a disability (see Table 1). These two groups of participants comprised similar proportions of males and females, and similar proportions of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. However, participants with a disability were significantly more likely than other participants to be older, to be born in an English speaking country, to have lower personal incomes and to have lower levels of education.7

Table 1: Disability status by demographic factors
Participants with and participants without a disability, 2003
Demographic factor
Disability status
All participants

No.
Disability
No disability
No.
%
No.
%
Gender Female
246
48.4
957
50.1
1203
Male
262
51.6
960
49.9
1222
Total
508
100
1917
100
2425
Age (years) a15–24
35
6.9
367
19.2
402
25–34
57
11.2
405
21.1
462
35–44
78
15.4
402
21
480
45–54
112
22.1
335
17.5
447
55–64
109
21.5
190
9.9
299
65+
116
22.9
216
11.3
332
Total
507
100
1915
100
2422
Indigenous statusIndigenous
17
3.9
63
3.6
80
Non-Indigenous
419
96.1
1681
96.4
2100
Total
436
100
1744
100
2180
Country of birth a English speaking
454
89.5
1602
83.7
2056
Non-English speaking
53
10.5
313
16.3
366
Total
507
100
1915
100
2422
Personal income a
($/week)
0–199
126
26.4
363
20.7
489
200–499
219
45.9
598
34.1
817
500–999
97
20.3
590
33.6
687
1000+
35
7.3
205
11.7
240
Total
477
100
1756
100
2233
Educational level aDidn’t finish/at school
68
13.5
200
10.5
268
Year 10/equivalent
153
30.3
509
26.7
662
Year 12/equivalent
101
20
404
21.2
505
Certificate/diploma
89
17.6
320
16.8
409
University degree
94
18.6
471
24.7
565
Total
505
100
1904
100
2409
a Significant difference, p<0.05.
Notes: n=508 participants with a disability and 1917 participants without a disability. Where the total for a given demographic factor is less than 2425 (i.e. 508 + 1917), data were missing on that factor. Disability status was missing for six participants.

To examine the extent to which the participants with a disability are representative of the NSW population of people with a chronic illness or disability, the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey was compared with the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2003 (ABS 2004a; 2004b). The SDAC is the largest survey in Australia measuring disability. In terms of the overall incidence of chronic illness or disability, the percentage of 20.9 per cent (i.e. 508 of 2431 participants) obtained by the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey is virtually identical to the 20.2 per cent obtained by the SDAC.8

In terms of participants’ demographic characteristics, there were some similarities and some differences between the two surveys. The SDAC disability participants, when compared with other SDAC participants, were more likely to be female, older, born outside Australia or New Zealand, and out of the labour force or unemployed. SDAC disability participants were also more likely to have no post school qualifications and lower incomes.9 Thus, the SDAC survey was similar to the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey (see Table 1) in that participants with a disability were older and more disadvantaged on the indicators of income and education compared with other participants. However, despite these similarities, when the SDAC disability participants were directly compared with the Coumarelos et al. (2006) participants with a disability, those from the SDAC were significantly older, less likely to have post-school qualifications, less likely to be out of the workforce and more likely to be employed.10

Given the differences noted above between the Coumarelos et al. (2006) survey and the SDAC, it appears that the group of participants with a disability used in the present analyses may not be entirely representative of the NSW population of people who have a chronic illness or disability.



  


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Coumarelos, C & Wei, Z 2009, The legal needs of people with different types of chronic illness or disability, Justice issues paper 11, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney