We asked 54,000 Aussies how they were thinking and feeling. See how you compare


By Matt Liddy


October 06, 2019 06:00:32

Ever wondered what the people outside your immediate network are really thinking and feeling?

We decided it was time to find out.

Today, we’ve launched the ABC’s Australia Talks project, which includes an interactive tool that shows you how your attitudes and experiences compare with other Australians.

What is Australia Talks?

In July, the ABC asked more than 54,000 people all over the country to share their thoughts and feelings on almost 500 individual questions.

The resulting Australia Talks National Survey provides an unprecedented insight into people’s everyday lives:

  • Do you know your neighbours by name?
  • Do you often struggle to make ends meet?
  • Does looking at social media make you feel worse about yourself?
  • Do you feel safe walking alone at night?

As well as into how Australians are feeling:

  • How often do you feel lonely? And loved?
  • How’s your mental health?
  • What would make you happier?

And what they’re thinking:

  • Has political correctness gone too far?
  • Is it OK to smack your kids?
  • Will young Australians today be better or worse off than their parents?

And now it’s time for you to get involved. Our Australia Talks interactive tool allows you to answer a sample of the survey questions and then delivers immediate, personalised results that help you understand how your responses compare with other Australians — and what they say about you.

Over the next six weeks, the ABC will use the Australia Talks National Survey data to start conversations about the issues that matter to us as a nation, and help you understand the mind and mood of the country.

That will culminate in a live TV show hosted by Annabel Crabb on November 18, which will use the National Survey data to paint a sweeping portrait of Australia in 2019.

Who made Australia Talks?

Australia Talks is an ABC project, created in collaboration with data scientists and social scientists at Vox Pop Labs — the creators of Vote Compass. A panel of local academics also helped guide its creation, and the University of Melbourne is an academic partner.

How does Australia Talks determine my results?

When you use Australia Talks, you will answer a series of questions about your behaviour, your feelings and your beliefs.

Those same questions were asked in the Australia Talks National Survey, which was fielded between July 20 and July 29, 2019 and had a total of 54,970 respondents.

The results of that survey have been weighted by sex, age, education, language, geography and vote choice in the 2019 election to create a nationally representative sample of the Australian population.

This means that when you answer those same questions, Australia Talks can show you how your views fit into the wider picture of Australian experience and opinion that the survey has helped develop.

How did the ABC decide what questions to ask?

To develop the Australia Talks National Survey, the ABC and Vox Pop Labs conducted a number of ‘crowdsourcing’ surveys that asked thousands of Australians from all walks of life open-ended questions designed to uncover the realities of their everyday lives, their thoughts about the most pressing issues in Australia and their fears and hopes about the future.

These questions included:

  • What are the most pressing concerns that you and your family face today?
  • What aspects of life in Australia do you think are getting better and getting worse?
  • How are your values and priorities different from what’s being talked about in the news?

The answers people gave were surprising, personal and sometimes confronting.

«I’m scared … scared of my wife dying … of me dying … of landing in a nursing home and not having the freedom to decide when I die.»

They also revealed the wide range of concerns facing Australians today, touching on everything from the difficulty of making ends meet financially to religious discrimination to the challenges of spending more than three hours commuting to and from work every day.

  • «I feel the distance between the regions and the cities is becoming a real issue. Country towns are literally running out of water.»
  • «Being able to save money for emergencies, let alone day-to-day expenses.»
  • «I believe that freedom of speech, and freedom of religious expression should be one of our highest priorities. I particularly believe that our Australian Christian heritage is being seriously undermined by lack of tolerance.»
  • «As a person of colour, and a person of Muslim heritage, the racism really weighs on you. It makes me wonder: Is this person one of the people who just want me to ‘be disappeared’?»
  • «Although Australians seem to believe that climate change is serious, when it comes to doing something about it there is little interest. This is mirrored by our politicians and most of our media.»
  • «I think the breakdown of the family unit is a big issue ignored. I think children raised in strong stable homes is key to a successful society. Divorce takes priority over children and seems to just be the ‘done’ thing, ignoring the negative impacts on kids.»
  • «The ability to express yourself without being howled down for your views.»

These are just a small selection from thousands of responses. We heard from people in regional areas, Australians from diverse backgrounds, and even people who felt disconnected from and angry at the ABC.

«I am feeling increasingly isolated from ABC.»

In addition to these initial open-ended surveys, the ABC conducted interviews with more than 60 Australian community leaders, young people, academics and researchers to help uncover the issues that are important and of interest to Australians today.

«I feel like the federal election showed that media and politics is become really weighed down in broad and overarching philosophies, which are something to aspire to,» one local councillor from north Queensland told us.

«But we’re forgetting to talk about the everyday fears and concerns of people.»

From there, Vox Pop Labs, a group of Australian academics and ABC staff analysed the themes that emerged from that initial research, and used those to help develop the questions asked in the Australia Talks National Survey — and ultimately the small selection of questions included in the Australia Talks tool.



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