Paul Omodei

Paul Omodei


    Minister launches new report on disabilities in Western Australia

    5/10/2000 11:00 AM

    Disability affects the lives of more than half a million Western Australians, according to a new report on the extent and impact of disability in the State.

    Launching the new report ‘Disability in Western Australia’, Disability Services Minister Paul Omodei said that one in three Western Australians either had a disability or provided care to a family member or friend with a disability.

    Mr Omodei said the report provided an important overview of disability types and prevalence in WA and detailed the needs of people with disabilities and their carers and how well those needs were being met.

    The information has been compiled by the Disability Services Commission from its client data collection, provided by more than 700 service outlets throughout the State, together with the latest surveys by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on ageing, disability and carers.

    Mr Omodei said while many people with disabilities reported some restrictions in managing their lives independently, the vast majority of people who needed help were receiving assistance.

    “People with disabilities make up a significant proportion of the State’s population and are an integral part of the community,” he said.

    “This publication clearly shows the complex and diverse needs of people with disabilities and their families and carers and provides an indication of how well we are doing in meeting those needs.

    “Families remain the backbone of our caring system so it is essential that we provide the support they need to continue in their caring role, but offering support to people with disabilities is a whole-of-community responsibility.”

    Some of the data in the report include:
    • 355,500 Western Australians - or almost 20 per cent of the population - have a disability;
    • almost 200,000 people - or more than one in 10 in the community - provide care to people with disabilities;
    • 75 per cent of Western Australians with a disability live in the community;
    • 70 per cent of all help required by people with disabilities is provided informally through family and friends, 24 per cent of help is provided by Government and non-Government agencies and in six per cent of cases, no help is provided;
    • 73 per cent have a physical disability, 17 per cent have a mental or behavioural disorder (including intellectual disability) and 10 per cent have a sensory disability;
    • about 86 per cent of people with disabilities are restricted in their ability to undertake everyday tasks or responsibilities;
    • almost 90 per cent of those people needing help with self-care have their needs met; and -
    • 86 per cent of the funding for disability services in 1998-99 was provided by the State Government, with the remaining 14 per cent coming from the Commonwealth Government.

    Mr Omodei said the prevalence of disability in WA would increase as a higher proportion of the population moved into age groups in which disability was more common.

    The Minister also launched the commission’s new strategic plan, which details the vision, mission, values, goals and strategies for disability services for the next five years.

    Mr Omodei said the strategic plan had been developed in close consultation with people with disabilities, their families and sector representatives and clearly laid out the commission’s future direction.

    He said the new plan emphasised the need to maintain and develop those initiatives and services that provided a cornerstone of support for people with disabilities.

    “Initiatives such as access improvement, accommodation support, respite, therapy and local area co-ordination have made a remarkable difference to the lives of many people with disabilities,” the Minister said.

    “While the provision of services will increase, the commission will also focus on strengthening individuals, families and communities to provide greater support and involvement of people with disabilities.

    “Real acceptance, real community inclusion and real improved quality of life for Western Australians with disabilities and their families can only be achieved through strengthening the ability of our community to respond effectively and creatively to their needs.”

    Mr Omodei said both publications were available to individuals and agencies providing services to people with disabilities and their families.

    Media contact: Hugh Ryan 9213 6700