Celebrating our differences on #IDPWD 2021

November 29, 2021

More than 4 million Australians — roughly 18 per cent of the population — are living with a disability. Of those, 7.4 per cent are children aged newborn to 14 years. Some are disabled at birth, whilst others suffer traumatic injuries that can cause a disability.

Each year, the United Nations recognises global citizens living with one or more disabilities as part of the International Day of People with Disabilities. On 3 December 2021, the annual celebration will focus on the theme ‘Fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.’ This year, International Day of People with Disabilities should be used to recognise that people who live with disabilities are among the most affected populations amid the COVID pandemic. Where marginalisation, discrimination, vulnerability and exploitation are every day factors for many people, the increased risk of poor outcomes have been magnified with the reduced access to routine health care and rehabilitation services, more pronounced social isolation, poorly tailored public health messaging, inadequately constructed mental health services, and a lack of emergency preparedness for people with special needs.

What is an ‘invisible’ disability?

Disability is a term describing an ongoing mental or physical challenge. Not all disabilities are easily discernible. Known as hidden disabilities or non-visible disabilities, an ‘invisible’ disability is not immediately apparent by looking at a person. Typically, they are chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impact daily living activities. Amongst the most common invisible disabilities are mental illness, chronic pain and fatigue, hearing and sight impairments, brain injuries, cognitive dysfunctions, and neurological disorders.

Persons living with an invisible disability can quickly tire of others assessing their ability or inability to perform certain tasks based on their physical appearance alone. So, it is important to remember to listen with your ears instead of judging with your eyes to foster a better understanding of hidden disability.

Disability by numbers

The most recent data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics details the types of disability and how many Australians are living with both visible and invisible disability. The bureau’s Disability, Ageing and Careers, Australia report lists the following facts and figures:

  • Slightly more females (17.8 per cent) than males (17.6 per cent) are living with a disability
  • 2 out of 5 people with disability are aged 65 and older
  • 2.1 million Australians in the workforce have a disability
  • 1 in 6 Australians have hearing loss, with 30,000 Australians experiencing total hearing loss
  • 375,000 Australians are blind or have low vision
  • 76.8 per cent of Australians with disability have a physical disability

Mental illness is one of the invisible disabilities to which the International Day of People with Disabilities intends to bring awareness this year. In its National Survey of Mental Health, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that 2 to 3 per cent of the population lives with a severe mental disorder. About 20 per cent of the population experienced a common mental illness in the last year, with the most common being anxiety disorders. Amongst children age 4 to 17, 13.9 per cent were diagnosed with a mental health disorder, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) the most common.

Disability services in Australia

Individuals living with disability in Australia are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The scheme was legislated in 2013 and is now fully operational. NDIS is a federal government program that funds costs associated with disability for Australians under 65 with a permanent or significant disability. It provides financial support to individuals living with a cognitive, intellectual, physical, psychological, or sensory disability. Children with developmental delay are eligible for assessment and early intervention supports via the NDIS.

Persons with a disability who meet access requirements for the scheme can apply for assessment. The NDIS offers three support categories:

  • Core supports for assistance with daily living
  • Capital supports for equipment, home, or vehicle modifications, and assistive technology or equipment
  • Capacity supports for assisting persons with disability to gain independence and employment skills

Supports must be obtained through an NDIS-approved provider to qualify for coverage. The NDIS offers complete listings of approved providers for each state.

Through dedicated disability hubs, community and home-based locations across Northern Sydney and the Central Coast, CatholicCare provides a comprehensive range of individual and group programs for those living with disability.

We support people to develop the skills and capabilities they need to gain independence and participate in society. We enable opportunities for choice, inclusion and achievement at home and in the community.

Our qualified and dedicated staff pride themselves on developing strong relationships with those in our care, as well as their families and carers. We want a world where people living with a disability are valued equally, listened to and included. We’re here to improve the lives of our client’s and their families now, and fight alongside them for a better future.

For more information please contact us:
P: (02) 9488 2500
E: disabilityfutures@catholiccaredbb.org.au

More news stories like this one

Amy says no to abuse

“I planned my escape to take place at 7.00am on 24 September 2022,” says Amy who had been a victim of domestic violence for three years. “I planned for it to happen at a time when Chris was a 45 minute drive away.

Read More

Empowering young people to speak up when something isn’t right

Slowly but surely, domestic violence is becoming less of a taboo topic. Here we explore the importance of teaching young people how to be active bystanders and speaking up when something isn’t right.

Read More

Being the face of God in the unknown

The comfort CatholicCare's Pastoral Care team brought during the final months and weeks of my husband's life was beautiful. The Catholic Chaplaincy team became our spiritual family.

Read More