ACT: People in Canberra are happier than other parts of Australia, study finds

According to a new study from the University of Canberra, people in and around Canberra are on average happier than Australians in other parts of the country.

The fourth ‘Living Well in the ACT Region’, conducted by the University of Canberra Institute of Health Research, found that only 17.6% of ACT adults reported low levels of wellbeing, compared to 24 .8% of all Australians.

On Thursday, lead researcher Professor Jacki Schirmer said in a statement that the research was interesting because it showed how the wellbeing of ACT residents changed between the first and second Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 .

“While personal wellbeing dropped in the first lockdown, it didn’t drop as significantly for most Canberrans in the second,” she said.

“The survey results suggest that while 47.1% of Canberrans told us they found the second lockdown more difficult to manage than the first, many have in fact managed to maintain their wellbeing despite the challenges of the lockdown.”

Wellbeing indicators measured in the survey include personal wellbeing, access and connectedness, connection to nature, health, identity and belonging, standard of living, security and the social connection.

Data from the survey contributes to reporting for the Territory Government’s ACT Wellbeing Framework, which was drawn up following consultation in 2019 and 2020 with Canberrans on ‘what is the more important to their quality of life.

Explain the purpose of the frameworkthe ACT government said “existing measures of economic progress do not take into account all the issues that may be important to a community”.

“Quality of life issues are often masked in such statistics, with life satisfaction not necessarily tracking measures of economic growth for everyone in the community,” he says.

“By turning our attention to indicators of social progress and considering them alongside the economic problems we already measure, we will begin to gain a clearer picture of the broader effects that political and non-political factors have on our people, our businesses, our places and our systems.”

The University of Canberra survey found that some groups have experienced a decline in their wellbeing, including those who live alone or in units or apartments.

“People who are carers experienced a particularly large decline in what was already a below-average level of wellbeing within this group, as well as those living with mental disabilities,” Professor Schirmer said.

“It highlights the need to invest in supporting the groups whose wellbeing has been most affected over the past two years.”

The report also indicated a drop in the perception of overall livability in the area, falling to 87.8%, from 94.7% in the 2020 survey. The drop was greatest among young Canberrans, tenants, those living in units and apartments and those who have lived in Canberra for less than five years.

“The results suggest that among these groups, the effects of Covid-19 on the ability to socialize, study and work face-to-face, as well as participation in community events, had a significant impact,” said said Professor Schirmer.

She said the ACT government has led the way in developing a wellbeing framework that governments can use to inform their decision-making, and other states and the federal government have recently begun to follow suit.

“This kind of data can help governments and other organizations like community groups identify where they can best invest and support those who are struggling the most,” she said.

ACT residents, including residents of Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass and Murrumbateman, are invited to participate in the next phase of research by responding to the 10 minute survey.

“We may not be in lockdown, but 2022 certainly brings its own set of challenges,” Professor Schirmer said.

“We invite everyone living in the Canberra area to take part in the latest round of the ‘Living Well’ survey.”

Originally published as Canberra residents happier than other areas, University of Canberra study finds