How a global pandemic has changed us


How a global pandemic has changed us

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a marked improvement in the way Australians feel about where they live, while also helping to improve our familial relationships, a new survey has found.

The results, which came out prior to the announcement of Melbourne’s fourth lockdown, were just some of a revealing number of findings detailed in the Australia Talks National Survey released by the ABC earlier this month.

The research-based initiative involved interviewing upwards of 60,000 Australians from every federal electorate in every state and territory on their attitudes to a range of important topics ranging from the number of times they changed their sheets to whether they believed children should be smacked.

The results showed that an overwhelming majority of Australians believe they live in the best place on the planet, with eight out of ten of us feeling either strongly or somewhat strongly agreeing we are lucky to call Australia home.

This was up 10 per cent, showing a market rise in positivity about living in Australia, since the survey was last taken in 2019.

The survey also showed there’s been a huge shift in how we weigh up individual freedoms versus the wider public good between the two survey periods.

In 2019, 54 per cent of us strongly agreed that sometimes people’s freedoms need to be restricted to keep Australia safe. Clearly influenced by the flow on effects of government lockdowns as a result of the pandemic, by the time the 2021 survey was taken, that figure had risen to 70 per cent.

For nine per cent of us, our sense of priorities have worsened since the pandemic. The good news is, for 56 per cent of women and 38 per cent of men, the challenges of the past year have actually led to a clearer sense of what matters most.

The survey showed that one in three Australians feel their health has suffered since COVID-19 first made its presence felt. Unsurprisingly, given their epic lockdown, Victorians are the most likely to say their health and fitness has taken a hit since the pandemic started.

However, the majority (44 per cent) of us say we’re just as healthy physically as before the pandemic hit.

The results weren’t quite as positive when we reflected on our mental health, however with one in four of us admitting we frequently feel anxious. The results also showed it’s not uncommon to feel that way, with number of people saying they frequently felt anxious climbing in the past two years.

The survey showed young adults in particular are more likely to say their mental health is worse now than before the pandemic. In fact, the following responded that their mental health had declined since the spread of COVID-19:

  • 52% of those aged between 18 and 24
  • 44% of those aged 25 to 29
  • 38% of those aged 30 to 39
  • 34% of those aged 40 to 49

When it comes to family relations, the news was much better.

It appears the pandemic brought one in three of us a better relationship with our loved ones. COVID-19 forced many people to focus on what’s important and, for a lot of us, that meant family.

Young people are a lot more likely to have felt an improvement in their family relationships with an average of 29 per cent of those aged between 18 and 49 reporting that their relationship with their family was much better than during the pre-pandemic period. In comparison only 17 per cent of those aged over 50 felt similarly.

To find out further results or to discover how you compare to other Australians, you can take the survey here. 

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