Welfare, or wellbeing, is positively or negatively affected by many factors, including housing, education, employment and social networks. These factors can also influence a person’s need for welfare services and support.
Australians continue to experience both direct and indirect health effects from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. These include the health effects to an individual with COVID-19, and the short and longer-term impacts of measures put in place to contain COVID-19.
Broadly, welfare refers to the wellbeing of individuals, families and the community. The terms welfare and wellbeing are often used interchangeably. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted a renewed focus on issues which affect the welfare and wellbeing of Australians. This chapter identifies different sources of welfare support, and highlights the link between health, welfare and wellbeing.
Australians continue to experience both direct and indirect health effects from the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As of mid-2021, the circumstances in which Australians live are continuing to evolve. While some aspects of life during the pandemic change quickly, such as employment figures, others may not change that much or change may not be immediately apparent. In an Australian context, this chapter explores the impact of COVID-19 on:
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Psychological distress
- Life satisfaction
- Social cohesion
- Mental health of children
- Family domestic and sexual violence
- Child protection
- Aged care residents
- People with disability
- Indigenous Australians
- Housing and homelessness
- Income and employment.
Based on the latest available data, this chapter summarises the welfare and wellbeing of Australians across a range of areas, including:
- How much do we spend on welfare?
- What does the welfare workforce look like?
- Why do we give to charity?
- How many Australians are home owners?
- How much do Australians spend on housing?
- How affordable is housing?
- Who experiences homelessness?
- Are children ready for school?
- How do students perform?
- How many students are continuing education?
- How many Australians are employed?
- Gambling in Australia
- How many young people are under youth justice supervision?
- Who is in prison?
- How common is family, domestic and sexual violence?
- Indigenous Australians
People access welfare services and support temporarily when circumstances and need arise (for instance, emergency temporary accommodation for bushfire affected communities), or long term (for instance, the Disability Support Pension). When an event triggers change in a person’s life, it is often the point at which that person contacts government support services.
This chapter summarises a range of welfare services and support for Australians, including:
- formal and informal care for children
- child protection services
- aged care services
- disability support services
- income support (such as, Age pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Jobseeker and student payments, parenting payments)
- social housing programs
- specialist homelessness services
- employment services (such as jobactive and Disability Employment Services)
- volunteers and informal carers.
Comparing welfare and wellbeing data between Australia and other member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) helps to inform policy, planning and decision making.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic transformed the way data are thought about and used internationally. From the start of the pandemic in Australia, data have been at the forefront of public discussion and understanding, and have been pivotal for decision makers. There has been a strong demand for timely data and this will have a long-lasting impact on the data system in Australia.