There is no doubt that 2020 will be a year for the history books. Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows how Australians (aged 15 and over) coped in a range of areas between June and September of this iconic year. Australia was experiencing international and national travel restrictions, stimulus payments like JobKeeper and JobSeeker, various restrictions and a second lockdown for Victoria at the time this survey was conducted, and, positively, the results show that despite challenges posted by COVID-19, Australians were still positive about their life satisfaction.
Despite a challenging year in 2020, Australians rated their overall life satisfaction as 7.2 out of 10. This is comparable to 2019 (7.5) and 2014 (7.6). Interestingly, younger Australians reported the lowest life satisfaction of all age groups surveyed, with our research suggesting that COVID-19 had a big impact on them.
In 2020, more than half of Australians (59%) experienced at least one personal stressor, which is a similar proportion to 2019 (56%). Although many plans were cancelled in 2020, a third of Australians (33%) reported ‘always’ or ‘often’ feeling rushed for time.
More females (35%) than males (30%) said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel rushed for time, with Millennials and Gen X women (aged 25-54) reporting higher levels than other age groups.
Due to social distancing measures and various lockdowns, Australians had less face-to-face interaction with those living outside their household. While the virus was largely kept under control within Australia in 2020, our research suggested the biggest negative impact of COVID-19 was on people’s social health rather than their physical health. Despite the restrictions, two in five (42%) Australians had face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside their household at least once a week in 2020. As to be expected, this was much lower than in 2019 (68%).
Positively, most Australians reported being able to receive support in times of crisis from persons living outside their household in 2020 (93%), which was similar to 2019 (94%). In 2020, most Australians said they also had family or friends living outside their house to confide in (86%).
Trust and diversity
Trust is an important element of a thriving society, and, positively, three in five (61%) Australians agree that most people can be trusted. Trust is also relatively high in police (for 79% of Australians) as well as in the healthcare system (76%) and in the justice system (63%).
Australia is a land of diverse peoples, and most Australians agree with the statement that it is ‘a good thing for a society to be made up of people from different cultures’ (85%).
Another area of life impacted by COVID-19 was people’s finances. In 2020, nearly one in five households (19%) were unable to raise $2,000 within a week for something important. A similar proportion experienced a cash flow problem in the previous 12 months (21%) or had at least one dissaving action in the previous 12 months (23%).
One parent families with dependant children were more likely than couple families with dependant children to say that a government pension and allowances was the main source of income in their household (32% compared to 4%) and were less able to save money most weeks (33% compared to 52%).