LEFT BEHIND: Monitoring the social inclusion of young Australians with self-reported long term health conditions, impairments or disabilities 2001 – 2009

published June 2011


Executive summary


Adolescents and young adults with disabilities are at heightened risk of social exclusion. Exclusion leads to poor outcomes in adulthood which in turn affects individuals’ health and wellbeing and that of their families and society through loss of productive engagement in their communities.


Australia’s Social Inclusion Indicators Framework provides indices in domains of participation, resources and multiple and entrenched disadvantage to monitor and report on social inclusion. The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey provides data over time on households in Australia. Using these tools we report here on the extent of social inclusion/exclusion of young disabled Australians over the past decade.

Relative to their non-disabled peers, young disabled Australians are significantly less likely to do well on participation indicators.


They are less likely to:

Be employed

Be fully engaged in education or work

Have attained a year 12 or equivalent education

They are more likely to:

Live in a jobless household

Experience long-term unemployment

Relative to their non-disabled peers, young disabled Australians are significantly less likely to do well on resources indicators.


They are less likely to:

Feel they have someone to turn to in time of crisis

Experience autonomy

Have a voice in the community

They are more likely to:

Have low economic resources

Experience financial stress/ material deprivation

Have mental illness

Have fair or poor health

Have a lower subjective quality of life

Feel unsafe in their local community

Report being a victim of crime

The standout finding is that over this decade young disabled Australians were significantly more likely than their non-disabled peers - to the extent of five times more likely - each and every year to suffer multiple disadvantage and entrenched disadvantage (the same measure over 2 consecutive years).


Despite social policy interventions the aspiration for young disabled Australians to become more socially included appears even further out of reach than previously, with a widening of the gap between the life conditions of disabled and non-disabled young Australians on five critical areas: living in a jobless household, being fully engaged in work or education, low economic resources and financial stress and, most worryingly, multiple disadvantage and entrenched multiple disadvantage. In only one area did the gap narrow – on being a victim of personal crime.


The analyses conducted for this policy briefing confirm that despite the implementation of policies and services related to disability (and at a time when Australia led by example in the development and ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), this economically prosperous nation has yet to redress the significant and pervasive social exclusion founded on multiple and entrenched disadvantage faced by Australian adolescents and young adults with a self-reported long term health condition, disability or impairment.

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