People with a disability in Victoria

The number of people with a disability in Victoria is increasing and is expected to continue to grow due to population growth, ageing and increased life expectancy.

People with a disability form 18.4 per cent of the Victorian population.

Facts about disability, including the incidence of disability in the community, and economic and social outcomes of people with a disability are provided in this section. There is also information about the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC).

For more information, see the Victorian State Disability Plan 2017-2020.

  • About disability

    A disability can be any physical, sensory, intellectual, cognitive or psychiatric impairment that affects a person’s ability to undertake everyday activities.

    A disability can occur at any time in life. People can be born with a disability or acquire a disability suddenly through an accident.

    Some forms of disability are episodic, others are temporary. Some disabilities may be obvious while others are hidden.

    The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides a comprehensive definition of disability.

    The Disability Act 2006 (Victoria) reaffirms and strengthens the rights of people with a disability. The act provides a framework for the provision of high-quality services and supports for people with a disability. For more information, see the Disability Act 2006 on our Services website.

  • Economic and social outcomes

    People with a disability currently experience more disadvantage than other Victorians.

    Research has found:

    • In Victoria, 26 per cent of people with a disability do not study beyond year 10, compared to 18 per cent of people without a disability
    • People with a disability are almost five times more likely to live in state-supported rental accommodation, than people without a disability
    • The average weekly income of Victorians with a disability is 48 per cent less than the population without a disability
    • In 2009, the labour force participation rate for Victorians with a disability of working age was 52 percent, compared to 83 per cent for Victorians without a disability
    • People with a severe or profound disability experience even greater disadvantage, with a labour force participation rate of only 32 per cent.
  • Incidence of disability in Victoria

    In 2009, there were 5.44 million Victorians, and of these, one million were people with a disability (18.4 per cent). This figure includes:

    • People with different types and levels of impairment
    • Children
    • Young people
    • Older people
    • Women
    • Men
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
    • People living in rural or regional area
    • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

    Approximately one-third of people with a disability or 6 per cent of the total Victorian population (338,200 people) have a profound or severe disability (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011).

  • Victorian Disability Advisory Council

    The Victorian Disability Advisory Council was established in July 2007 under the Disability Act 2006.

    The council provides advice to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing. It advises on policies and strategies, to increase the participation of people with a disability in the Victorian community. The council also works with other community and government advisory groups to create opportunities for all Victorians.

    The council's role

    The council's main responsibilities are to provide advice to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing about:

    • Government policy directions, strategic planning and initiatives for people with a disability
    • Strategies to remove barriers to full inclusion and participation in the community of people with a disability
    • Any matter referred to the council by the Minister
    • Communicate effectively to people with a disability, the Victorian Government and the wider community
    • Raise community awareness of the rights of people with disability, and the role of government, business and the wider community in promoting rights
    • Consult and work with other disability advisory councils or similar bodies
    • Monitor the implementation of strategies for promoting the inclusion and participation of people with a disability in the community.

    The Victorian Disability Advisory Council reports annually to the Minister on the performance of its functions.


    Members are made up of people with a disability. Members are also carers of people with a disability, who have experience in policy, governance, leadership and collaborations, as it relates to disability.

    The current council’s term of office will continue through to 30 June 2019.

    Victorian Disability Advisory Council members

    • Colleen Furlanetto (Chair)
    • Catherine Clark
    • Melanie Eagle
    • Daniel Giles
    • Stephanie Gotlib
    • Anne Kavanagh
    • Jeffrey McNeill
    • Jennifer Morris
    • George Taleporos
    • Colin Hiscoe.