Being involved in the community and having meaningful connections with other people are determinants of wellbeing.
Context statement: Indicator of trust and reciprocity between people which contributes to wellbeing. Access to support beyond a person’s own household provides a sense of security, and represents a safety net for people in a time of crisis.
In 2020, most Australians (93%) reported being able to get support in times of crisis from persons living outside their household, similar to 2019 (94%) (ABS 2021).
For more information see Social determinants of health.
For international comparisons, see International comparisons of welfare data.
Reference: ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2021. General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia; Reference period: 2020. Canberra: ABS.
Context statement: Indicator of social cohesion. The contribution of volunteers to a variety of organisations helps to build social networks, increases shared values and strengthens social cohesion. By volunteering, individuals can become more outwardly focused, leading to a decrease in social isolation, greater social connections and the promotion of good mental health.
Between 2006 and 2010, more than 1 in 3 (34–36%) people aged 18 and over reported volunteering through an organisation in the previous 12 months. In 2020, 1 in 4 (25%) of Australians aged 15 years and over, volunteered through an organisation in the previous 12 months, this was lower than the 30% in 2019 (ABS 2021).
In 2020, almost half (49%) of the Australian population aged 15 years and over volunteered informally by providing unpaid work or support to non-household members in the four weeks prior to the survey. This was similar the rate seen in 2019 (52%). In 2020, males and females were just as likely to provide this unpaid work or support (48% and 50%) (ABS 2021).
For more information, see Volunteers.
Reference: ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2021. General Social Survey: Summary results, Australia; Reference period: 2020. Canberra: ABS
Context statement: Social connection is important in shaping wellbeing across the life span. In contrast, loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health.
Results from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) longitudinal study show that over the past 19 years, around 1 in 5 to 1 in 6 people reported they often felt very lonely in any given year. While the overall proportion of Australians experiencing loneliness shows a small but steady decline from a high of 21% in 2001, to a low of 16% in 2009, rates have remained relatively stable at around 18% for the past 7 years (HILDA 2021).
According to the ANUpoll, the proportion of Australians experiencing loneliness reached a high of 45.8% in April 2020, falling to 36.1% in May 2020 but rising to 40.5% in August 2020; however, the rise from May to August only occurred in Victoria (Biddle & Gray 2021). The ANUpoll also showed that the proportion of people experiencing loneliness increased between April 2021 and August 2021 (35.3% to 44.5%), which was driven by increases in Sydney with the rest of Australia showing little change over this period (Biddle & Gray 2021).
For more information see Social isolation and loneliness.
For further information about loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, see: The use of mental health services, psychological distress, loneliness, suicide, ambulance attendances and COVID-19.
The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey: Selected findings from Waves 1 to 19, 2021.
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.
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