Australians maintained their sense of wellbeing through 2020 despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new survey has found.
While the adversity faced by Australians during the pandemic might have been expected to result in a decline in happiness, the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index report saw national wellbeing move out of its average range to reach its highest score in 20 years.
The report shows those who experienced COVID-19 hardship were often able to see the silver lining.
"Most participants identified positive experiences including better work-life balance, more quality time with their families, living more simply, having greater empathy for others, and feeling more grateful for the things they have," Christine Yates, chief executive of Retail at Australian Unity said.
"This is something that we continue to see, even now, as the nation deals with the latest wave of cases and lockdowns."
The joint Australian Unity and Deakin University survey breaks wellbeing into seven areas, including levels of satisfaction with standard of living, health, personal achievement, relationships, safety, community connectedness, and future security.
The latest report showed both personal and national wellbeing scores were largely within the average range and remained similar to those in non-pandemic years.
"The findings speak to the resilience of the Australian community in the face of major stress and to our adaptive capability as a society," says Associate Professor Delyse Hutchinson, the lead researcher of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index.
That could potentially be due to the availability of resources such as the JobKeeper payment, and a sense that Australia was "doing better" than many other countries.
The 2020 survey saw a notable spike in satisfaction with the government, triggered by the active response to the spread of COVID-19.
It also highlighted how strong community connections help Australians maintain a sense of wellbeing through times of adversity.
Key trends in the data over the 20-year period suggest Australians feel a strong need to come together and help each other through tough times.
"These are times where many Australians put the needs of others above their own. During the bushfires, the community rallied to provide vital donations of water, housing and food to affected communities, and during the pandemic, Australians are staying at home to save lives in the community," said Dr Kate Lycett, Research Fellow at Deakin University's School of Psychology.
Australian Associated Press