Child: care, health and development
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Aim: This paper contributes to knowledge on the prevalence and nature of disabilities in Australian children over a 12‐year period (2003–2015). Understanding the current state of childhood disability is imperative for predicting future needs for long‐term care and early intervention services for this population.
Methods: We used data on children 0–14 years from the 2003, 2009, 2012, and 2015 survey of Disability, Aging and Carers, which is an ongoing national survey covering both rural and urban areas of all States and Territories of Australia.
Results: Using the test for trends in population, no significant increases were noted in the prevalence of childhood disabilities over the last 12 years, although the prevalence of any developmental disability increased from 6.9% to 7.42% between 2009 and 2015. The rate and severity of disability was higher among boys compared with girls of the same age for a number of selected disabilities and higher for children aged 5–14 years.
Conclusions: With the anticipated rise in psychological related disability among Australian children, there is a need to ensure availability of a flexible and responsive model of service delivery for this population. This also implies that respite service coverage may need to be substantially increased to meet children and caregivers' needs.