Australians rank highly on a range of life satisfaction measures compared to other countries, yet an estimated one in four experience episodes of loneliness, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) 2019 report card on the welfare of Australians released today.
Young adults, males and people with children were more likely to feel lonely, the report said.
Finding affordable housing also remained a challenge for many Australians, with more people spending a higher proportion of their income on housing than in the past.
“More than 1 million low-income households were in housing stress in 2017-18, where they spent more than 30% of their income on rent or mortgage repayments,” AIHW spokesperson Mr Dinesh Indraharan said.
In addition, the report showed there has been little change in income inequality since the mid-2000s- though income is now higher than it was in the 1980s and wealth is more unequally distributed than income.
Despite these statistics the report showed a high level of satisfaction in other areas.
Record employment, including female employment, and an increase in education levels, were contributing to Australia’s wellbeing.
“Australia is in the top third of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for a range of measures, including life satisfaction and social connectedness,” said Mr Indraharan.
In relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s, wellbeing was shaped by the wellbeing of the community said Mr Indraharan.
“In recent years there have been improvements in a range of areas of wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians,” he said.
“Indigenous home ownership has risen over the past decade, from 34% in 2006 to 38% in 2016, household overcrowding has decreased, and fewer Indigenous Australians rely on government payments.”
According to the report education remained important in helping to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. The employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians has narrowed as education levels increase. There is no gap in the employment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians with a university degree.
However, some Indigenous Australians experienced widespread social and economic disadvantage. One in five Indigenous Australians lived in remote areas and fared worse than those in non-remote areas, including lower rates of school attendance and employment, and were more likely to live in overcrowded conditions and in social housing.
Members of the Stolen Generations are another particularly disadvantaged group. They were more likely than other Indigenous Australians to have been incarcerated, receive government payments as their main source of income, experience actual or threatened physical violence or experience homelessness.
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