Australians enduring stress of pandemic and natural disasters
The year of 2020 was a challenging year, with the global pandemic and natural disasters drastically affecting the shape of life in many communities in Australia.
When we asked Australians about the greatest stressors they experienced in 2020, top of the list were: family relationships; the impacts of social isolation; and the safety of self, family or friends due to COVID-19. These three items were each selected by around a fifth of Australians.
In terms of personal support, most Australians report having family, friends and colleagues to turn to for help. However, just over one in ten persons (12%) say they have no one to turn to for personal support.
In the 2020 Australian Community Survey, held in November, Australians were surveyed on the things that had caused high levels of stress for themselves or their household, in the past month. In late 2020, after a year when the way of life was broadly impacted by natural disasters and the global pandemic, some 22% of Australians selected 'family relationships' as well as the 'impact of social distancing and isolation' as their greatest stressors; followed closely by 21% who selected the 'safety of self, close family members or friends, due to COVID-19'. Some 19% selected 'loss of household income' as a stressor.
When asked whether they had someone to call on for support or help, some 68% of Australians selected family, followed by 44% who selected friends and colleagues. (Respondents could choose more than one option).
It is worth noting that just over one in ten persons (12%) said they had no one to call on for support and some 7% were unsure.
Resilience is a term used more and more commonly throughout 2020 to describe a strength, tenacity and adaptability that enables people to endure and move beyond such traumatic events as natural disasters and pandemics.
From the 2020 ACS results, it can be seen that relatives and family networks are listed both as the support network that helps Australians, as well as the greatest stressor, experienced during a period that involved lockdown and staying at home for extended periods, as part of social isolation measures. Worries about family, isolation, safety and loss of income are clearly being experienced by a strong minority.
Within local communities, faith-based organisations including churches, schools and community care agencies, can form a part of a valuable support network offering friendship, practical help and pastoral care for people in time of need. As part of the social and spiritual fabric of Australian communities, we encourage leaders to stay informed on the spiritual and social trends of Australians into a new year and hopefully a post-COVID-19 world.
Taken from the keynote address by Dr Ruth Powell, Director of NCLS Research, at the APTO Virtual Conference, December 2020. These results are from the 2020 Australian Community Survey run by NCLS Research.
Videos include: Spiritual profile of Australians; Australians' sources of stress in 2020; Australians' view of the importance of spiritual practices; Spiritual practices 2020 vs 2019; and Are Australians open to invitations to go to church?
Video excerpt taken from the keynote address by Dr Ruth Powell, Director of NCLS Research, at the APTO Virtual Conference, December 2020. These results on 'Australians' sources of stress in 2020' are from the 2020 ACS by NCLS Research.
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Powell, R. Sterland, S. and Pepper, M. (2020). 2020 Australian Community Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.
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