Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Improved data on disability support opens door to better services

The capacity of Australian, States and Territory Governments to provide support services for Australians with a severe or profound disability has been boosted with the release of the most comprehensive report ever on their circumstances, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.Senator Patterson said the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on Disability Support Services 2002-03 was a significant milestone because it brought together for the first time whole of year data about government funded assistance for people with a disability and their carers.

‘Previous reports on disability support services provided only a one day in the year snapshot of national activity. The whole of year data collection approach will now yield better quality information and in turn produce better quality service delivery,’ Senator Patterson said.

The AIHW Report provides data from 1 January to 30 June 2003 to enable consistency of reporting across jurisdictions. The improved reporting system was drawn up under the terms of the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement.

‘The Australian Government has been collecting whole of year data since 2000, I am pleased that the States and Territory governments are now following suit,’ Senator Patterson said.

‘The data gathered in this AIHW Report will provide a solid foundation for future monitoring of the performances by all Governments in their care and support for Australians with a disability and the people providing informal care for them.’

‘The new data and subsequent reports will enable the Australian Government in partnership with State and Territory Governments to provide better and more effective assistance to Australians with a disability into the future.

‘Importantly the report includes for the first time, data on informal carers which will provide valuable information in the monitoring and planning for the future needs of ageing carers,’ Senator Patterson said.