Disability report reveals major inequality, need for collective action
In new analysis for the Actuaries Institute, Laura Dixie and Hugh Miller examine the deep, systemic disparities between people with disability and those without, highlighting the need for inclusive, societal changes, beyond government policy.
One in five people with disability experience social isolation, while one in three people with disability experience loneliness – in each case, twice the rate for people without disability. People with disability are three times more likely to die by suicide.
These shocking statistics, among many others exploring the inequality faced by people with disability in Australia, are revealed in the Actuaries Institute’s latest report, released today.
Not a Level Playing Field – People with Disability, authored by Laura Dixie and Hugh Miller, builds on their earlier Green Paper for the Institute, which found across the nation overall, the economic divide between Australia’s rich and poor is now significantly higher than in the 1980s.
In their most recent report, Laura and Hugh focus on the inequality for people with disability. In the domain of social inequality, they found compared to people without disability, people with disability are:
- 6 x more likely to be a recent victim of violent crime
- 5 x more likely to experience homelessness
- 3 x more likely to be in out-of-home care as a child
- 6 x more likely to be incarcerated.
The report outlines several economic inequalities, including an average disposable income gap of $24,000. People with disability are also three times more likely to be unemployed or underemployed.
“Improving policy and outcomes for people with disability is complex,” Laura says. “But despite the challenges efforts are ongoing, and the current discourse and prominence of the issues highlights the potential to effect meaningful change.”
“… the evidence shows it is crucial to place people with disability and their carers at the centre of developing government policy that affects them.”
For example, the release last month of the Disability Royal Commission’s final report, included a suite of recommendations to improve circumstances and reduce maltreatment. Also, the release last year of the Australian Disability Strategy 2021-2031, is already helping to increase accountability with its suite of indicators, which are routinely tracked.
“To achieve valuable change, the evidence shows it is crucial to place people with disability and their carers at the centre of developing government policy that affects them,” Laura adds. “This ensures they play a direct role in identifying what adjustments or support they need.” In the report, Laura and Hugh also urge improved data collection and the use of linked data to better understand disability supporting more effective decisions.
Beyond government policy, they say efforts are required across society to view disability through inclusive rights-based models, rather than through a medical lens as a problem that needs fixing.
To further address the gaps, Laura says, “Collaboration between leaders in government, business and the general community will be critical in reducing discrimination and stigma, growing awareness and ultimately creating a more inclusive, safe and equal society for people with disability.”
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