Social cohesion is an important determinant of wellbeing. Together, these indicators express the extent to which societies are integrated or divided.
Context statement: Indicator of take-up of basic human right to have a political voice.
The proportion of eligible Australians aged 18 and over who are enrolled to vote has risen over the last decade – from 91% in 2010 to 96% in 2021 (AEC 2021). The increase was seen in all jurisdictions, with the ACT having the highest enrolled population (98%) and the NT the lowest (86%) in 2021 (AEC 2021).
Reference: AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) 2021. National enrolment figures by state/territory; Canberra: AEC
Context statement: Proxy indicator for social capital, which is an important contributor to wellbeing directly, and signals other aspects of social participation.
Levels of generalised trust did not change between 2006 and 2014 with more than half (54%) of adults somewhat or strongly agreeing that most people can be trusted. In 2019, 55% of Australians somewhat or strongly agreed that most people could be trusted. In 2020, the proportion of Australians that agreed most people can be trusted increased to 61% (ABS 2021).
Additionally, results from the ANUpoll showed that between February (pre-COVID-19) and May 2020, there was a significant increase in ‘social cohesion’ (people’s perception of whether most people can be trusted, are fair and most of the time try to be helpful). There was then another increase in perceived social cohesion between May and October 2020, and a slight (but not significant) decline between October 2020 and August 2021 (Biddle & Gray 2021).
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2021. General Social Survey; Reference period: 2020. Canberra: ABS
Biddle, N and Gray, M 2021. Tracking wellbeing outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic (August 2021): Lockdown blues. Australian National University: ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods.
Context statement: Indicator of trust that people have in core institutions (government, business, non-government organisations and media).
The Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 showed that in October to November when the annual survey was in the field, trust across all Australian institutions reached an all-time high for the general population sample. The composite trust index recorded the largest gain (+12 points to 59 points) of the 28 countries surveyed. Trust across all Australian institutions reached an all-time high in 2021, resulting in significant gains for business (+11 points to 63 points), government (+17 points to 61 points), NGOs (+8 points to 62 points) and media (+12 points to 51 points) from 2020 (ETB 2021a).
A mid-year update conducted in May 2021 including 1,200 Australians found that trust in government for the Australian general population sample fell 9 points (to 52 points). This decline in trust was greater than any other country. Trust in business (–4 points), NGOs (–7 points) and media (–10 points) also fell from the previous results (ETB 2021b). However, trust in these 4 core institutions remained higher in May 2021 than before the COVID-19 pandemic (ETB 2021b).
ETB (Edelman Trust Barometer) 2021a. Country report: Trust in Australia. Edelman
ETB 2021b. Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 Mid-Year Update Australian Edition. Edelman
Context statement: Indicator of intolerance of diversity and equality in society.
In 2020, 13% of Australians reported that they had experienced some form of discrimination in the previous 12 months, falling from 19% in 2014 (ABS 2020).
Reference: ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2021. General Social Survey; Reference period: 2020. Canberra: ABS.
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