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The national well-being of Australians is a half-full glass

The government’s Measuring What Matters Report, released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, paints a mixed picture of Australia’s national well-being.

Positively, we have seen an increase in life expectancy, increased income, improved job opportunities, and a better acceptance of diversity over the last two decades.

There has been little progress in mental health despite the fact that Australians have more chronic illnesses.

While we have made improvements in school results, we still lag behind other countries and spend less time on developing new skills.

He says that after a test run of a national wellbeing framework in Treasurer Jim Chalmers first budget last summer, this is the first real Framework for national wellbeing.

50 indicators are used to assess our wellbeing in five categories: health, security, sustainability, cohesion and prosperity. The idea is to look beyond traditional economic measures.

Commonwealth Treasury: Measuring what matters

In the report, it is stated that 20 of 50 indicators have improved over the past decade, seven have remained stable or hardly changed and 12 have regressed. Eight of the 50 indicators have mixed trends and three do not have comparable data.

Environmental progress has been made in terms of emissions, resource use and waste production. The biological diversity of the planet has declined.

The income of households and the satisfaction with their jobs have increased, but it is harder for people to get by and homelessness has risen. Fiscal sustainability and economic resilient have also declined.

Income and wealth inequality has remained relatively unchanged. Wages are mixed.

The trust in the national government has declined, but that of others has increased.

The report states that, in relation to Indigenous Australians: “the concept has always been a result of maintaining and preserving culture, which directly impacts mental, physical, and spiritual health.”

As a consequence:

The whole population indicators in this Framework do not accurately measure First Nations well-being, as they cannot represent the intrinsic cultural differences of First Nations or acknowledge past practices which have negatively impacted their wellbeing.

The overall satisfaction of Australians with their lives has remained relatively stable in recent years.

The report states that “between 2014 and 2020, the average overall satisfaction with life in Australia (out 10), was relatively stable between 2014 and 2019, before decreasing slightly to 7.2 by 2020.”

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Jane S. King

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