Working Alongside People with Intellectual and Learning Disabilities

Prevalence Study of Parents with Intellectual Disability in Australia

Estimated prevalence and living circumstances of parents with intellectual disability in Australia from selected national surveys

A new study has been released by Healthy Start, the National Strategy for children of parents with learning difficulties.

 

Executive Summary

The technical report details the processes undertaken to estimate the prevalence of parents with intellectual disability in the Australian population, their characteristics and living circumstance based on analysis of data available from Australian national surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Method

The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC 2009) was used to determine prevalence and socio-demographic characteristics for parents
with intellectual disability in comparison to parents with other disabilities and non-disabled parents.

 

The General Social Survey (GSS 2010) was used to examine the living circumstances of parents with intellectual disability on selected social indicators – employment, material resources, social and emotional wellbeing and health – compared to parents with other disabilities and non-disabled parents.

Findings

Analysis of SDAC 2009 data identified an estimated 0.41% of Australian parents had intellectual disability. This equates to an estimated 17,000 parents with intellectual disability residing in private dwellings in Australia.


People with intellectual disability were about four times less likely to be parents compared with non-disabled people.

People with intellectual disability were about three times less likely to be parents compared with people with other disabilities.

Parents with intellectual disability were more likely than non-disabled parents to reside outside capital cities and to have only one child.

There were no significant differences between parents with intellectual disability and non-disabled parents in relation to sex or age distribution, lone parenthood or the number of resident children.

 

There were no significant differences between parents with intellectual disability and parents with other disabilities on any of the demographic variables examined.

 

Analysis of GSS 2010 data revealed that, compared with non-disabled parents and also compared with parents with other disabilities, parents with intellectual disability were significantly more likely to:

  • be in a jobless household
  • be in households in the lowest three deciles of equivalised weekly income
  • be on government pensions as the main source of personal income
  • have ever been without a permanent place to live
  • have ever stayed in a shelter, squatted in an abandoned building and/or slept rough
  • have less frequent contact with family and friends
  • have negative or mixed feelings about life
  • have poorer self-assessed health.

Parents with intellectual disability were also more likely to be unemployed or not in the labour force compared to non-disabled parents.

Summary

Compared to other Australian parents (non-disabled parents and parents with other disabilities), parents with intellectual disability are significantly disadvantaged in employment, income, housing, social relationships and health and wellbeing.

 

These findings will contribute to evidence-informed policy and service planning in family and parenting support.

 

Download the full report at http://www.healthystart.net.au/images/resources/04-Exploring-Research-Evidence/PrevalenceStudy_TechnicalReport_1_Aug2014.pdf