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New AIHW report spotlights our wellbeing and the importance of welfare data during the pandemic

The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Rob Heferen, CEO, AIHW. 

As the new CEO of the AIHW (10 weeks and counting!), I’m really pleased to see one of the Institute’s flagship reports released. This morning’s video message from Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, to launch Australia’s welfare 2021 highlights the leading role the Institute plays in the health and welfare data and statistics space.

The ongoing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have thrust the wellbeing of Australians well and truly into the public spotlight. The pandemic has shown how important it is to continue sourcing quality and timely welfare data to understand how people engage with and navigate welfare services, and to equip policymakers with the evidence to inform decisions that will benefit our health, welfare and wellbeing.

Australia’s welfare 2021 contributes to this by bringing together multiple sources of data and analysis in one place, to help build a more comprehensive picture of the first year or so of the pandemic. It includes information on the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities across topics such as housing, employment and income, education and social support. We also take an in-depth look at the vulnerable groups of Australians who face bigger challenges than others and were already facing significant disadvantage before the pandemic.

Most of the data are from 2020 and 2021 and the report tells part of the nation’s COVID-19 story, from the start of the pandemic to early- to mid-2021 through a longer-term lens. The report also includes very recent data from the August 2021 ANUpoll, showing how life satisfaction, psychological distress, social isolation and loneliness have been impacted by the pandemic.

While I’ve mentioned the importance of timely data, we still have need for longer-term analysis, as not all things change rapidly even in a pandemic. Australia will most certainly see longer-lasting impacts as the pandemic continues, which we intend to capture in forthcoming work.


In my brief time at the helm, I’ve been impressed with the Institute’s commitment to keep up with current digital trends and improve accessibility of information. In 2019, the format and presentation of Australia’s welfare was modernised by increasing our online presence, enabling more timely and accessible release of data and a better user experience. This year, we’ve followed a similar format.

The Australia’s welfare 2021 product suite comprises of:

All products can be viewed or downloaded here, and make sure to watch the animation video!

It’s great to immediately see some of our core strategic goals in action—to be ‘leaders in health and welfare data’, ‘produce authoritative and accessible information and statistics’, ’expert sources of value-added analysis’ and ‘trusted strategic partners’—with the production of our flagship reports.

Congratulations to everyone across the Institute involved in the analysis, production and release of today’s report, particularly the Flagships Reporting Unit! 

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