The Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WG) is a United Nations (UN) sponsored City Group commissioned to improve the quality and international comparability of disability measures. The WG’s main purpose is to promote and co-ordinate international co-operation in the area of health statistics focusing on disability measures suitable for censuses and national surveys. The WG’s major objective is to develop tools to collect the basic data necessary to provide information on disability that is comparable throughout the world. A short set of questions on disability for use on national censuses has been developed, tested and adopted by the WG (Washington Group on Disability Statistics, 2017a). In 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) collected data on the prevalence of disability in the Australian community using the WG Short Set of questions via the Supplementary Disability Survey (SDS).
The SDS was conducted on a sample of respondents from the 2015 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), allowing for an analysis of the identification of disability in Australia using the WG Short Set, relative to the identification of disability is the SDAC.
Findings of the analysis included:
- Most people with a disability in the SDS also had a disability in the SDAC (84.7%).
- Just over one quarter (26.9%) of people with disability in the SDAC were identified as having a disability in the SDS.
- There was a great deal of variation in the consistency of reporting disability in the six functioning domains included in the WG Short Set (seeing, hearing, mobility, remembering and concentrating, self-care, and communication). This ranged from 65% of people with difficulty in remembering or concentrating in the SDAC also reporting this in the WG Short Set, down to 20% of those who have difficulty with self-care activities.
- For those who reported a disability in the SDAC, the likelihood of being identified with disability in the SDS using the WG short set varied based on:
- Severity of disability;
- Socio-economic status (SEIFA quintile);
- Labour force status; and