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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2013   
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Measures of Australia's Progress

Close relationships

Australians aspire to a society that nurtures families and other close relationships that support people
Graph Image for People who have family members living elsewhere that they can confide in(a)

Image: Tilde - Not changed greatly

Close relationships in Australia have not changed greatly in recent years

    Indicator: Proportion of people who have family members living elsewhere that they can confide in

    Why is this theme important?

    Australians told us that positive, close relationships have benefits for individuals and society overall. Positive relationships were seen to be caring, strong, healthy and loving ones, that function well and protect all members. They can be family relationships, which have a fundamental effect on wellbeing, or other close relationships where people care for and support one another. Positive close relationships were seen as vital for children if they are to thrive and go on to contribute to Australia's future. Many people agreed that sufficient time needs to be available to build and maintain positive relationships, especially during crucial times. People felt that relationships could be supported by society, through services and other support mechanisms.

    How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

    We have decided that there has been little change in close relationships in Australia in recent years because the proportion of people who have family members living elsewhere that they can confide in (our headline progress indicator for close relationships) hasn't moved much.

    Although the numbers of Australians who have close relationships with family outside their household are consistently high, they would have to increase as a proportion of the population for an assessment of progress in close relationships to be made.

    Between 2006 and 2010, the proportion of people who had family members living elsewhere that they could confide in didn't change significantly (88% and 89% of people, respectively).

    Why this headline progress indicator?

    Having supportive family networks to rely on is an important part of the aspiration for close relationships.

    The proportion of people who have family members living elsewhere that they could confide in is considered a good measure of progress for close relationships because it provides insight into the importance people place on maintaining and relying on close family relationships.

    Other than family within the household, family living elsewhere are often the people that individuals turn to for support when they are in a crisis and with whom they feel close. It is important to note that family strength is not the only quality measure of close relationships; it can extend to friends, colleagues and associates. Close relationships may be established through business interactions, friendships or other types of social and cultural commitments that are not captured by this indicator.

    Quality assessment (see key)

    Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of the concept of close relationships as described above (based on Aspirations for our Nation).

    Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

    Let's break it down!

    The proportion of people who have family members living elsewhere that they can confide in remained steady in 2006 and 2010 for all age groups, except for people aged 45-54 years, where there was an increase from 84% in 2006 to 88% in 2010. There was also no significant change in the proportion of men and women who had a family member living elsewhere that they could confide in between 2006 and 2010.

    Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

    But that is not the whole story...

    There is more to close relationships than the proportion of people who have family members living elsewhere that they can confide in. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

    Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.
Graph Image for People that feel able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time(a)
Positive relationships in Australia have not changed greatly in recent years


Indicator: Proportion of people who feel they are able to have a say with family and friends on important issues all or most of the time

The strength of family and other relationships is a recognised social issue (ABS, 2001). Australians told us that positive relationships were seen to be caring, strong, healthy and loving ones, and are essential for individual wellbeing. As such, positive interpersonal relationships contribute to social progress. Australians felt that well-functioning, positive relationships protect and support their members and are resilient and mutually beneficial. They can be family relationships or other close relationships where people care for and support one another.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about close relationships.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in positive relationships in Australia in recent years because the proportion of people who feel they are able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time (our progress indicator for positive relationships) hasn't moved much.

Although the proportion has not changed much, it remains consistently high suggesting that the vast majority of Australians continue to place importance on maintaining and strengthening positive relationships with their family and friends. For progress, we would expect to see an increase in this indicator.

Between 2006 and 2010, the proportion of people who felt able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time remained steady at around 83%.

Why this progress indicator?

Being able to have a say with family or friends on important issues is an important part of the aspiration for close relationships.

The proportion of people who feel they are able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time is considered a good measure of progress for positive relationships. This is because it indicates the extent of strong and accepting relationships that people have within their support network; that is, relationships in which people are able to express their needs and opinions whilst maintaining the close relationship, would appear to be positive, caring and resilient. Positive relationships are caring, strong, healthy and loving ones, that function well and protect all members. As this measure does not capture all of these different aspects of positive relationships, this indicator has been assessed as a partial measure of positive relationships.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of positive relationships.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Between 2006 and 2010, the proportion of males and females who felt able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time also remained steady, at around 83% and 84% respectively.

Across the majority of age groups, the proportion of people who felt able to have a say with family or friends on important issues all or most of the time didn't significantly change from 2006 to 2010. The exception to this was in the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups. The proportion of people aged 45-54 years who felt able to have a say significantly increased from 81% to 85%, whereas the proportion of those aged 55-64 years decreased from 84% to 78%.

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to close relationships than positive relationships. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

Graph Image for People that have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons outside the household(a)
Caring relationships in Australia have not changed greatly since 2002


Indicator: Proportion of people that have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons outside the household

Why is this element important?

People are social beings. We require love, companionship and engagement with others to flourish. Australians told us that family, friendship and other caring or cooperative social relationships are important at all stages of life, but particularly when people are least able to care for themselves. The absence of caring relationships can have a serious impact on personal wellbeing as well as on wider social cohesion.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about close relationships.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in caring relationships in Australia since 2002 because the proportion of people that have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons outside the household (our progress indicator for caring relationships) hasn't moved much.

For progress, we would expect to see an increase in this indicator.

Between 2002 and 2010, the proportion of people who have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons living outside the household remained steady at around 94%.

Why this progress indicator?

Having support in a time of crisis is an important part of the aspiration for close relationships.

The proportion of people who have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons living outside the household is considered a good measure of progress for caring relationships. Support provided by people outside of a person's household provides insight into the person's extended safety net of caring relationships. The provision of support in a time of difficulty or crisis informs us about whether a person is able to gain the support they need at such a time.

Families and communities are core structural elements in society and they take on a large portion of the economic and physical burden of care for individuals in society, particularly for children, aged people or people with disabilities. Caring relationships can exist in many forms such as providing economic resources, physical or emotional support.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of caring relationships.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

Between 2002 and 2010, the proportion of men and women who have a source of support in a time of crisis from persons living outside the household also remained steady, at around 93% and 94% respectively. There were also no significant changes across age groups between 2002 and 2010.

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to close relationships than caring relationships. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

Graph Image for Children who are developmentally vulnerable because of their physical health and wellbeing
Opportunities for children to thrive in Australia have not changed greatly in recent years


Indicator: Proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable due to their physical health and wellbeing

Why is this element important?

The early years of a child's life are considered to be critical for physical and emotional development. Australian's told us that positive close relationships are vital for children if they are to thrive and go on to contribute to Australia's future.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about close relationships.

How have we decided things haven't changed greatly?

We have decided that there has been little change in opportunities for children to thrive in Australia in recent years because the proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable due to their physical health and wellbeing (our progress indicator for thriving children) hasn't moved much.

For progress, we would expect to see a decrease in this indicator.

Between 2009 and 2012, the proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable because of their physical health and wellbeing has remained unchanged at 9%.

Why this progress indicator?

The proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable (because of their physical health and wellbeing) tells us about opportunities for children to thrive as part of the aspiration for close relationships.

The proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable because of their physical health and wellbeing is considered a good measure of progress for thriving children because it provides an insight into childhood development, particularly of those children who are at risk of not developing the adequate skills required for their development - that is, not thriving in this regard. The physical health and wellbeing of the child refers to their physical readiness for the school day, physical independence and gross fine motor skills. However, we acknowledge that a child's physical health and wellbeing is only one aspect of their development.

This progress indicator is one part of the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI). The AEDI is a population measure of children's development as they enter school. The AEDI measures five areas of early childhood development: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language, cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge. You can find out more about the AEDI by visting their website - http://maps.aedi.org.au/

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of opportunities for children to thrive.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to close relationships than opportunities for children to thrive. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

Graph Image for People who feel rushed or pressed for time often or always(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Persons aged 15 years and over.;(a) Persons aged 15 years and over.;^ Estimate for 75-84 year age group in 2006 has a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution. * Estimates for the 85 years and over age group has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. (a) Persons aged 15 years and over.;^ Estimate for Tas. in 2006 has a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution. * Estimates for NT and ACT in 2006 have relative standard errors of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. (a) Persons aged 15 years and over.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, 1997 Time Use Survey; ABS How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0); ABS data available on request, 1997 Time Use Survey; ABS How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0); ABS data available on request, 1997 Time Use Survey; ABS How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0); ABS data available on request, 1997 Time Use Survey; ABS How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat. no. 4153.0)

The availability of time and opportunity in Australia has regressed since 1997


Indicator: Proportion of people who feel rushed or pressed for time often or always

Why is this element important?

Australians felt that the availability of time for building and maintaining relationships was particularly important for creating connections that were positive, close, caring and that supported wellbeing. The opportunity to have time for relationships with loved ones was particularly important during crucial times, such as early childhood. Having the time and opportunity to undertake day-to-day activities is also important. Feelings of not having enough time to do the things that Australians feel are important to them can impact upon their overall wellbeing, as well as their relationships.

Go to the overall progress tab and further info page for more information about close relationships.

How have we decided there has been regress?

We have decided that the availability of time and opportunity in Australia has regressed since 1997 because the proportion of people who feel rushed or pressed for time often or always (our progress indicator for time and opportunity) has increased.

Between 1997 and 2006, the proportion of Australians aged 15 years and over who often or always feel rushed or pressed for time increased by 10%, from 35% to 45%.

Why this progress indicator?

Having the time and opportunity to build and maintain positive relationships is an important part of the aspiration for close relationships.

Australians indicated that it was important to have enough time to devote to maintaining relationships and the extent to which people feel they don't have enough time, affects this aspiration. For this reason the proportion of people who feel rushed or pressed for time often or always is considered a good measure of progress for the availability of time and opportunity. The perception of whether a person has enough time to do the things they think are important, value, want or need to do, is essentially subjective and as such we have used a subjective measure - people's feelings about time. However, this measure does not directly relate to people's feelings about the availability of time for their relationships so is considered a partial measure.

Quality assessment (see key)

Image: Icon for 'Partial measure' This indicator is a partial measure of the availability of time and opportunity.

Image: Icon for 'High quality' The data source is of high quality.

Let's break it down!

As a proportion of the population, women felt more pressed for time than men in both 1997 and 2006.

Across all age groups, the 35-44 age group had the highest proportion of people who felt rushed or pressed for time in both 1997 and 2006. People's feelings of not having enough time is related to the things that they feel they should and need to do. The feelings of the 35-44 age group possibly reflect the many conflicting demands that occur during this stage in life, such as work and family commitments.

In 2006, Western Australia was found to have the highest proportion of people who felt rushed or pressed for time at 47%, whereas the lowest proportion of people was in Queensland (41%).

Use the drop down menu on the graph to look at other breakdowns of the indicator (graphs are also available on the further info page).

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to close relationships than the availability of time and opportunity. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.

A data gap currently exists for relationship support


In MAP there are several types of data gaps where:
1. the concept is not yet developed enough to measure;
2. the concept is important for progress but may not lend itself to meaningful measurement;
3. there is no data of sufficient quality to inform on progress; or
4. there is only one data point, so a progress assessment cannot be made.

In order to capture the spirit of this idea in a measure, further development will need to be undertaken. We will continue to explore options for a suitable indicator in the future.

But that is not the whole story...

There is more to close relationships than relationship support. Look through the other tabs on this page to see if the other elements of close relationships have progressed.

Check out our further info page for useful links, a glossary and references relating to this chapter.



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