Definition of disability

Last updated: 30 Aug 2017

This page is: current

From 1 September 20171, the definition of ‘disability’ used for employment-related purposes (other than discrimination) in the APS is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.2

Persons are considered to have a disability if they  have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least six months and restricts everyday activities3. This includes:

Sensory

  • loss of sight (not corrected by glasses or contact lenses)
  • loss of hearing where communication is restricted, or an aid to assist with, or substitute for, hearing is used
  • speech difficulties.

Intellectual

  • difficulty learning or understanding things.

Physical

  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties that restrict everyday activities
  • blackouts, seizures or loss of consciousness
  • chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities
  • incomplete use of arms or fingers
  • difficulty gripping or holding things
  • incomplete use of feet or legs
  • restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work
  • disfigurement or deformity.

Psychosocial

  • nervous or emotional condition that restricts everyday activities
  • mental illness or condition requiring help or supervision
  • memory problems or periods of confusion that restrict everyday activities
  • social or behavioural difficulties that restrict everyday activities.

Head injury, stroke or acquired brain injury

  • head injury, stroke or other acquired brain injury, with long-term effects that restrict everyday activities.

Other

  • receiving treatment or medication for any other long-term conditions or ailments and still restricted in everyday activities
  • any other long-term conditions resulting in a restriction in everyday activities.

1 Note that between 1 December 2016 and 31 August 2017, the affirmative measure for recruiting people with a disability defined disability as “Persons are considered to have In this survey, a person has a disability if they report they have a limitation, restriction or impairment, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least two years and restricts everyday activities”, and that definition should be used for recruitment activity commenced during that period.

2 4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015 and 4430.0 - Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015 - Disability Groups

3 This includes episodic conditions if they are likely to recur