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AIHW Bulletin – September 2023

From the CEO's desk

Welcome to the September AIHW Bulletin.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) biennial report on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians was released on Thursday 7 September.

Australia’s welfare 2023 uses a variety of data sources to focus on some of the temporary and lasting effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the way Australians live and work.

There was a net total of 10,176 'excess deaths’ in Australia from the start of the pandemic (January 2020) to the end of March 2023 – this means there were over 10,000 more deaths than had been expected based on previous trends. COVID-19 accounted for a high proportion of the excess deaths.

While life expectancy fell in the United Kingdom and the United States in the first 2 years of the pandemic, as of 2021, this has not been the case in Australia.

Average life satisfaction was lower in August 2023 than it was before the pandemic and during late 2020 and early 2021. According to the ANUPoll, average life satisfaction was 7 out of 10 in October 2019 (pre-pandemic) and fell to 6.5 in April 2020. It increased steadily from August 2021, with a slight decline between January 2023 and August 2023 (from 6.8 to 6.6).

The proportion of adults working from home most days increased from 13% in early 2020 to 30% in April 2022, according to the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. By April 2022, 46% of people had worked from home at least once per week in the previous month.

In August 2023, 20.2% of Australians reported finding it ‘difficult’ and 10.1% ‘very difficult’ to live on their present income – above levels reported before and during the pandemic (18.5% ‘difficult’ and 8.2% ‘very difficult’ in February 2020; 12.6% ‘difficult’ and 4.7% ‘very difficult’ in November 2020).

The number of Australians experiencing homelessness increased from 95,000 to 122,000 in the 20 years to 2021. The rate of homelessness has fluctuated between 51 people per 10,000 population in 2001 and 48 in 2021.

In 2022, almost half (46%) of Australian adults who gambled were at risk of, or were already experiencing, gambling harm. At-risk gambling was highest in the 18–34-year-old age group for both men (71%) and women (56%).

In Australia, a lower proportion of women (50%) feel safe walking alone at night than men (80%). The gap (the difference between men and women feeling safe) of 30 percentage points is the largest of 37 OECD countries. Six OECD countries had less than 50% of women reporting they feel safe walking alone at night.

Young people returning to sentenced youth justice supervision 2021–22 shows that 9 in 10 young people aged 10–12 who were under sentenced community-based supervision returned before age 18.

Cancer data in Australia revealed that 5-year survival rates from all cancers combined continues to improve from 53% in 1990–1942 to 71% in 2015–2019.

Another report shows the health benefits Australians received from participating in sport and other forms of physical activity also resulted in an estimated net $321 million saving to the health system in 2018–19.

This estimate is contained in the Economics of sport and physical activity participation and injury report which looks at costs to the health system linked to physical inactivity and sport-related injuries and illness and savings linked to the health benefits of exercise.

Wishing you good health and welfare
Rob Heferen

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