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Australia’s welfare 2021 indicators

Australia’s welfare 2021 indicators summarise the performance of welfare services, track individual and household determinants of wellbeing, and provide insights into the nation’s wellbeing status more broadly. Key results are reported in Australia’s welfare 2021: data insights.

Welfare refers to the wellbeing of individuals, families and the community. The terms welfare and wellbeing are often used interchangeably. See Understanding welfare and wellbeing for contextual information about factors that influence wellbeing.

Currently, Australia does not have a nationally agreed set of indicators to measure wellbeing.

In the October 2022–23 Budget, the Government began “the conversation on how Australia might better measure what matters” and sought to explore how Australia can develop a way to measure progress and wellbeing (Treasury 2022).

In 2023, the Australian Government will release a new ‘Measuring What Matters Statement’. It is expected to present a framework unique to the Australian context for measuring what matters to, and for, Australians, to provide a high-level view of Australia’s progress and wellbeing (Treasury 2022).

The Australia’s welfare 2021 indicators were published prior to this Budget announcement and work. The AIHW will look to align any future reporting or updates of these indicators with the upcoming statement(s).


Determinants of wellbeing

Welfare system

Contextual factors

Download data: Data table: Australia's welfare 2021 indicators (XLSX, 730kB)

Indicators are grouped by domain and sub-domain, or topics. See Indicators of Australia’s welfare for an outline of the indicator framework. Each sub-domain has one or more indicators which you can explore in an interactive data tool. The indicators provide a selection of data that can be measured to show changes over time. Why the indicators are being reported on (context statement) and the definition of the measures used are provided in the visualisation. Some indicators have been included in this framework based on their use in National Agreements (for example The National Agreement on Closing the Gap (2020) or The National School Reform Agreement (2019–2023).

This edition has results for 52 indicators presented at a national level, with results for some indicators disaggregated by state and territory and other population subgroups, such as sex, age group and income quintile. The indicators have varying time series. Some have time series spanning a decade or more, whereas some have only a few time periods.

There are also international comparisons for some indicators, available at International comparisons of welfare data.

For more information on the Australia’s welfare indicator framework, see Indicators of Australia's welfare and Understanding welfare and wellbeing.

Welfare indicators and COVID-19

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a major health threat, which has led to substantial disruption across almost all parts of society worldwide. Australia, along with many countries around the world, introduced restrictions (including travel bans and physical distancing policies) to contain the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions continue to have a serious impact on the Australian economy and society, with travel, trade and people’s ability to work, attend school and socialise, all affected.

The ability to capture and report on welfare and wellbeing data throughout the pandemic may be limited. Where data relating to the COVID-19 period (generally considered from March 2020 – as this is the point at which restrictions and other responses to COVID-19 began) are available in routine national collections they are included; however, in some cases, the latest available data precede the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some indicators where this is the case, data have been supplemented with other more recent information that cover the COVID-19 period.

The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are also still unfolding in Australia. This limits the capacity to identify lasting impacts of COVID-19 on welfare and wellbeing. For example, while these indicators report the employment rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, any long-term implications are yet to be reflected in the data.

Finally, the measures presented in these indicators are intended to provide an overview of welfare and wellbeing for Australians. Therefore, information presented on this page may not capture more specific outcomes that are also associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. For this information see ‘Chapter 3 The impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of Australians’ in Australia’s welfare 2021: data insights.

About the data

The indicators draw on a wide range of data sources to present different perspectives on issues relating to the wellbeing Australians. Data sources include the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey and OECD data. The relevant source is cited in each visualisation. See the source data for the relative standard errors, margins of error or confidence intervals associated with these reported data. Some values should be used with caution. An ‘interpret with caution’ flag has been applied to the data where applicable.

How to use the interactive data visualisations

Due to large data sets, visualisations may take time to load.

Interact with the visualisations to see the specific data you are interested in. Select from the filters at the bottom of the charts, click the pencil icon to the right of the legend to highlight selected items and hover over data points to see the underlying data.


The Treasury 2022. Budget Statement 4: Measuring What Matters. Viewed 19 January 2023.