New data reveals incontinence affects 1 in 3 adult Australians

By: Continence Foundation of Australia
New data reveals incontinence affects 1 in 3 adult Australians

A new report on 'Continence Health in Australia’ released by the Continence Foundation of Australia on the eve of World Continence Week, shows that incontinence affects more than 1 in 3 Australians (38%). 

This new data from a nationally representative survey, shows that incontinence is now faced by over 6 million Australians and can cause serious long-term physical and mental health problems if left untreated.

Continence Foundation of Australia CEO, Rowan Cockerell says the ‘Continence Health in Australia’ snapshot report reveals significantly higher prevalence in women who have given birth (61%), people with arthritis (57%), mental health disorders (53%), disabilities (47%), diabetes (46%) and men with prostate problems (54%).

“We knew incontinence affects millions of Australians but this new National Survey tells us that the problem is even more widespread than we previously thought,” says Mrs Cockerell.

“Sadly, incontinence is deeply stigmatised and many consider it a taboo topic. Individuals will go to great lengths to keep their condition a secret if they are able. It adds an extra dimension of suffering to the actual health condition and has been found to lead to social isolation, higher psychological impact and delayed help-seeking.”

The National Survey reveals that the majority of people (62%) never seek professional help, this is despite evidence that incontinence can be better treated, managed and, in many cases, can even be cured at any age. 

Since 1989, the Continence Foundation of Australia has been providing information, education and services such as the free National Continence Helpline who answer over 27,000 calls for help each year. They distribute around 1 million health fact sheets, brochures, flyers and other resources and, last year, presented 355 community forums across the country and educated over 3,700 health professionals in best-practice continence care.

“This report demonstrates the strong need to continue that work into the future to meet increasing demand,” says Mrs Cockerell.

Much of the work of the Continence Foundation is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the National Continence Program and the Health Peak and Advisory Bodies Program.

“We are proud to work in partnership with the Continence Foundation of Australia to support the millions of Australians who suffer from debilitating bladder and bowel problems or pelvic dysfunction,” says Australian Health Minister, the Hon. Greg Hunt.

“The National Continence Helpline is a great example of this. For 20 years, the Australian Government have been funding this free confidential service, staffed by specialist continence nurses which provides urgent advice and information to the millions who need it, particularly our most vulnerable and those in rural and remote areas without access to specialist health services.”

View the World Continence Week video message from Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt MP 
For more information, confidential advice, resources or referrals to a continence specialist near you, contact the free National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 or go to

Laugh Without Leaking and World Continence Week 2019 is proudly supported by


Continence Foundation of Australia

The Continence Foundation of Australia is the national peak body promoting bladder and bowel health. The Continence Foundation of Australia's vision is to have a community free of the stigma of incontinence.

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