Reality check: Australian views dim on return to normal life

Reality check: Australian views dim on return to normal life

As Sydney suffers through a now-extended lockdown, new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals more than half are pessimistic about any return to normal within a year.

The results of the Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, released today by the ABS, detail one in four Australians are concerned it will take more than a year for things to return to pre-pandemic life - up from one in seven people in November 2020.

One in six (15.5 per cent) don't believe that life will never be the way it was pre-COVID (compared with one in nine people in November 2020).

A large proportion of people are simply unsure, at 11.9 per cent.

The remaining respondents (46.3 per cent) are more optimistic about the situation, believing nothing has changed at all (4.3 per cent), that life is already they way it was (17.6 per cent), or that life will be back to normal within a year's time (24.6 per cent).

Even once the pandemic is behind us, many Australians hope the future will be unlike it was pre-COVID.

In June 2021, Australians reported the aspects of life under COVID-19 restrictions they would most like to see continue were:

  • working from home (33 per cent)
  • spending more time with family and friends (33 per cent)
  • spending less and saving more (29 per cent)
  • slower pace of life (27 per cent)
  • taking more domestic holidays (27 per cent)
  • spending more time outdoors (25 per cent)
  • less environmental impact (25 per cent)
  • spending more time at home (24 per cent)
  • spending more time on hobbies (24 per cent).

One in six (18 per cent) people wanted none of the above aspects of life under COVID-19 restrictions to continue.

The survey also revealed 73 per cent of Australians agreed that they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, and more people (37 per cent) are working from home than before restrictions began in March 2020 (24 per cent).

ABS head of household surveys David Zago said one in five Australians (20 per cent) continued to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress and that prior to the most recent outbreaks there had been decreases in reported precautionary behaviours.

"In June 2021, behaviours like washing hands or using hand sanitiser regularly had decreased to 85 per cent from 95 per cent in September 2020, keeping a physical distance from people had decreased to 63 per cent from 88 per cent in September, and disinfecting surfaces had decreased to 43 per cent from 64 per cent," Zago said.

While official COVID-19 vaccination data is reported on the Department of Health website, the survey also asked respondents about their vaccination experiences.

"In June 2021, one in three Australians (33 per cent) aged 18 years and over reported that they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination," Zago said.

"People who reported disability were more likely than those without disability to have received a vaccination (46 per cent compared with 28 per cent)."

Of Australians who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, nine in ten (90 per cent) reported that it was very or moderately easy to get one.

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