Welfare report reveals impact of COVID-19

·2-min read

Australians are less lonely and more socially cohesive but are likely to be less satisfied with their life in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The latest welfare and wellbeing report released on Thursday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed the extent of how aspects of life have changed in the wake of COVID-19.

It showed more people have experienced severe psychological distress since the pandemic started, while the number of residents who receive income support payments is higher compared to the start of 2020.

The institute's deputy chief executive Matthew James said the report, which is released every two years, revealed a key snapshot about how daily life has been affected by the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has touched many aspects of our lives and prompted a renewed community focus on the welfare and wellbeing of Australians," he said.

The report found the average life satisfaction level as of August was at 6.5 out of 10, the same level as April 2020.

However, that figure was down on 6.9 at the start of 2020.

More than 36 per cent of people said they were lonely some of the time, which was down from 45 per cent in April last year.

One in 10 Australians have experienced severe psychological distress as of last month, an increase from levels of eight per cent four years ago.

The institute said while the number of income support recipients has decreased from 5.8 million to 5.4 million in the year to June 2021, it was up by seven per cent on March last year.

Mr James said the year 12 attainment rate for people in Australia was up from 83 to 89 per cent, while the number of trainees and apprentices decreased almost four per cent.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the impacts of the virus had been more constrained in Australia compared to other countries.

"It was heartening to see the economy bouncing back with the total number of employed people returning to pre-pandemic levels in May 2021," she said.

"Unfortunately, the current lockdowns are again taking their toll, but as our vaccination rates across the country continue to rise, I'm confident our economy will rebound quickly."

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