Growth, inflation and labour market all easing
Wellbeing diverging markedly across the country.
The nabhealth Australian Wellbeing Index fell to 63.9 points in Q3 2020 (64.4 in the previous quarter) to remain significantly lower than at the same time last year (67.6). Wellbeing rose and is highest in TAS (70.4), followed by QLD (67.1) and WA (66.9). By comparison, wellbeing fell in SA/NT (65.3), NSW/ACT (63.7) and particularly in VIC (59.5), where wellbeing is now at survey low levels.
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on wellbeing in Victoria is clear with Victorians far less satisfied with their lives, have a much lower sense of life worth, are far less happy and noticeably more anxious, compared to the rest of the country.
For the first time, the survey explores the wellbeing of Australians who had lost their main source of income due to COVID-19 against those who had not. Their wellbeing was also much lower (55.8 vs 65.9) and lowest of all groups after the unemployed (51.7).
With many parts of Australia still under COVID-19 social distancing rules, feeling of loneliness continued to creep up in Q3, with loneliness a significant issue for just over 1 in 4 Australians. A desire for social connection is fundamental to our wellbeing, and so being deprived of it can have mental and physical consequences. In VIC, where metropolitan areas have been under strict government lockdown, loneliness was by far the highest of all states. Loneliness in VIC jumped dramatically in Q3, lifting 7.3 points to 44.4. In contrast, the national average rose 1.3 points to 38.1.
For the first time we asked Australians to rate the extent they felt people in their household had “gotten along” in the past 7 days. On average, they scored 76.8 out of 100 (where 100 is “excellent”). Women and men reported similar outcomes (76.8), but people living in households with no children (78.4) appear to have gotten along better than those without children (73.4). Older Australians reported much higher scores (86.5 for the over 65s), with the lowest among those aged 18-24 (72.2).
The findings suggest that despite many challenges, Australian households have generally been resilient and relationships harmonious, although Victorians are well below the Australian average.
Having lost your main source of income because of COVID-19 also appears to be a key differentiator for household harmony (71.3 compared to 78.2 for Australians whose main income was not impacted).
The survey now also explores how Australians view their health. On average, Australians believe they are “moderately” healthy across all aspects of their health – mental, physical and social health. By state, VIC had noticeably lower health outcomes for mental (59.8) and social health (57.5) than any other state. Australians that had lost their main source of income because of COVID-19 also reported much lower levels of mental health (58.6) compared to those who had not (66.1).
COVID-19 has also had a profound effect on our behaviours which may also be impacting our health outcomes. On the positive side, around 3 in 4 people are now washing their hands or using hand sanitiser, and keeping a distance from people they don’t know, almost 6 in 10 covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, 1 in 4 are exercising more and 1 in 5 are drinking less. On the down side, the mental health of almost 1 in 2 is being tested as they worry more. Almost 3 in 10 are doing less exercise and 4 in 10 are connecting less with family and friends. One in 4 people are also sleeping less and 1 in 5 drinking more.
Since 2013, NAB has been producing a quarterly Australian Wellbeing Index. In recognition of the importance of the health sector in supporting Australia’s wellbeing the report has been renamed the nabhealth Australian Wellbeing Survey. The survey is based on responses from over 2,000 Australians and weighted to be representative of the Australian adult population by state, gender, age and other key demographics and was taken between September 15-29.
Get all the insights in the NAB Australian Wellbeing Survey – Q3 2020
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