What Will it Take to Make Australians More Optimistic about Australia?

What Will it Take to Make Australia More Optimistic?

 It’s time for Australia to take up the opportunity to become an optimistic nation and live up to its international reputation of being "relentlessly optimistic", "easy-going", and the "she'll be right mate" capital of the world.

Is Australia a relentlessly optimistic country? Are Australians optimistic people in general?

Over recent years, Australia has gradually slipped on the World Happiness Report to 12th place. Why would number one Finland be higher on the list than Australia? 

Australia's rate of anti-depression medication is one of the highest in the world.

"Australians are doing it hard" has become the must-use term of politicians ingratiating themselves with the electorate and news media.

A study of Australian teenagers showed only 25% were optimistic about Australia's future.

Optimism is the key to business formation, investment, innovation and resilience.

The "What makes Australians Optimistic for Australia" study by the Centre for Optimism shows an "Optimistic Australia" is within reach but will take commitment from government, business and the community.

The Centre’s November 2023 survey of 350 Australian leaders showed that 60 per cent are optimistic for the future of Australia over the next ten years.

The survey used humour and Australian slang to see what matters most in measuring optimism for the country.

"The survey shows that people believe our culture can be lauded again for its egalitarian, humour-filled and mate-based nature," said Centre for Optimism Chairman Robert Masters.

What needs to change?

Asked what factors would make them more optimistic about Australia's future, the respondents voted:

  • More optimistic leadership, fewer haters
  • More meaningful decisions, actions and outcomes from the government
  • A clear and inspiring national vision
  • Clear policy directions on sustainability – economic, social and environment 
  • Enhanced investments in innovation and infrastructure.

A similar survey by the Centre, undertaken at the same time last year, highlighted that people want more joy and believe community wellbeing is an essential goal.

"Most indicators show Australians, on average, are becoming less optimistic, more pessimistic.

Rob Masters head shot“However, it only needs some small changes in habits to turn that around. The Centre for Optimism's habit-changing recommendations show lifting your head from a screen and saying hello to people on the street and in the office corridor is a simple way of uplifting the wellbeing of your community." said Mr Masters.

"People are telling governments and business it is time for them to set pathways to a better future. They want a restoration of trust, engagement and input into strategies through greater collaboration and understanding of people’s needs. The quality of leadership is an important factor in people's faith in the future." 

The Centre for Optimism is a Melbourne-based think-tank and advisory on the value and role of optimism in leadership, strategic policies, organisational change and personal growth.

The Centre's research, covering more than 40,000 people over five years, also sees a strong educational sector, economic stability and trust in our institutions as important factors contributing to their optimism.

The Centre's Chief Optimism Officer, Victor Perton, said the research shows people are thinking about how to lift themselves and their communities.

"The respondents believe the best indicators of Australian optimism were 'looking out for each other' (mental wellbeing), feeling safe and sound (especially at night and within their neighbourhood) and 'putting in the hard yakka to look after our land, from the bush to the beach'."

Mr. Perton said although there was declining trust in our institutions (41%), the majority of respondents said that economic stability (49%) and quality of government leadership (48%) were key to building national optimism.

An Australian national culture that values compassion, kindness and inclusivity ranked the next highest at 41%.

Mr. Perton said that, unfortunately, trust in news ranked poorly, too.

"People are saying they want 'fair dinkum news' with 'straight stories and not pessimistic drivel'," he said. "The quality of journalism ranked fifth (5) out of the top 12 questions on the best indicators of national optimism.

"We live in a period of community scepticism on integrity in the private sector and government.

"The federal government is looking at measuring the nation's wellbeing in their budget outcomes. Our survey shows Australians agree and want better measures than GDP, employment and incomes and are concerned with social connection, health, work-life balance, and safety.

Trust in others and institutions are important resilience factors, but the majority of adults in OECD countries see society 'more divided now' than pre-COVID.

Mr Perton called for a 'refresh' in our expressions of national pride, sharing good news and positive thinking by leaders to restore community trust and uphold the values and policies that lead to higher standards of leadership, economic stability and prosperity.

He urged business and political leaders to give greater attention to generating a workplace culture that values optimism, joy, compassion, kindness and inclusivity.

2024 will see The Centre for Optimism further develop the survey and research to provide government and business with more actional advice to increase the optimism and wellbeing of the nation and its regions.

The Survey is still open - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nationaloptimism


Worth Doing: Our 5-Minute Survey on "What makes you Optimistic?"

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