‘Unprecedented’ and ‘Exhausting’ Year Not Without a Few Positives for Australians

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,018 Australians on 17-18 December 2020 about their perceptions of the year 2020.

Key findings: 

  • When presented with a list of 11 words or phrases and asked which best describes 2020, ‘unprecedented’ was the single most popular choice, chosen by 19%, followed by ‘terrible’ (14%), ‘tragic’ (12%) and ‘exhausting’ (12%).
  • Asked what they would keep from 2020 if they could: 
  • Among the most popular options, chosen by about one in three Australians, were: to keep less work travel (meaning less traffic and pollution) (35%), increased funding for mental health and family violence services (33%), and working from home arrangements (32%).
  • The least popular option was to keep the gas led recovery, selected by only 6%. 

“In what has been an unprecedented and exhausting year for most, it perhaps comes as no surprise those are the words Australians most often associate with 2020,” said Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute.

“However, our research shows there are some positives which Australians would like to keep from the year. Less work travel, more flexible work arrangements, and increased funding for mental health and family violence services chief among them.

“Tellingly, last on Australians’ wish-list for the new year is the Government’s much-vaunted ‘gas led recovery’ which only 6% of Australians selected as something they’d like to keep from 2020.”

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