1370.0.00.002 - Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress , 2011-12  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2013   
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Image - MAP, SocietySOCIETY

Australians aspire to a society that values and cares for the well-being of all its members

Society – primarily concerns human relationships. This encompasses the desire for good health, better living conditions and improved quality of life for all Australians. Individuals seek to achieve these for themselves, for their family, and for the communities they are part of.


Australians aspire to good health for all.

  • Physical health
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Quality health services
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Healthy environments
Throughout the MAP consultation, being healthy was seen as one of the most significant factors affecting an individual’s well-being. While health conditions and disabilities will always exist, people felt that it was still possible for people to optimise their health and have a feeling of wellness. Health was seen as multidimensional, relating not just to someone’s physical condition but also to their mental, emotional and social well-being. Lifestyle factors and the living, working, urban and natural environments were also thought to play an important role in health. The health of individuals was seen to affect relationships, particularly those relationships associated with caring for people who are ill, elderly or have disabilities. Wider societal and community well-being can also be influenced by health. For example, the provision of quality health care services and programs can impact community health and cohesion. Many people in the consultation saw society as having a collective responsibility to plan for the costs of providing adequate health care.

Close relationships

Australians aspire to a society that nurtures families and other close relationships that support people.
  • Positive relationships
  • Caring relationships
  • Thriving children
  • Time and opportunity
  • Relationship support
This aspiration is about the benefits that people felt positive, close relationships bring to 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 well-being, or other close relationships where people care for and support one another. Many people in the consultation agreed that positive close relationships are vital for children if they are to thrive and go on to contribute to Australia’s future. Of particular importance to building and maintaining positive relationships, according to participants, is the availability of time for doing this, especially during crucial times. People felt that relationships themselves could be supported by society, through services and other support mechanisms.


Australians aspire to have secure places to live that provide a sense of belonging and home, and are adequate to their needs.
  • Adequate housing
  • Affordable housing
  • Tenure
  • Belonging
The consultation revealed that homes mean a great deal to people in many different ways. They provide shelter from the elements, privacy, safety from harm, and the essential infrastructure needed for living with dignity. They can also contribute to a sense of belonging, of being settled and engender feelings of pride, security and ownership. They can be central to building positive relationships and communities. For homes to provide these well-being and social benefits, people thought that they should be adequately constructed, sufficiently equipped and located so that services and amenities are accessible. It was also felt that homes need to be appropriate for those living in them. For example, they should cater for the different needs of people at different stages of life, their physical abilities, and their cultural context. People also thought that homes should be affordable.


Australians aspire to a society where people are safe and feel safe.
  • Crime
  • Safe environments
  • Safety regulations and systems
  • Refuge
  • Feelings of safety
Australians aspire to be safe and free from physical and emotional violence, danger and harassment in their relationships, in public, while at work or in other areas of their life. People thought that this could be achieved by reducing crime, and through urban planning, workplace regulations, policing and justice systems, safe housing and other mechanisms that ensure public safety's well as being safe, the consultation revealed that people need to feel safe in order to function well in their lives and to have places where they can take shelter if they are not safe.

Learning and knowledge

Australians aspire to a society that values and enables learning.
  • Early learning
  • Schooling
  • Further education
  • Lifelong learning
  • Life skills
  • Research
  • Inter-generational learning
Australians recognised that learning, gaining knowledge and developing skills is important throughout peoples’ lives. Children’s development from infancy through schooling and into higher education and training was thought to be important both to individuals in establishing their life and well-being, and to society overall. Society was seen to benefit from the increase in people’s knowledge and abilities through increased productivity, innovation and cultural identity. This aspiration also acknowledges that basic life skills, such as literacy and numeracy, are vital to well-being and to full participation in society and that learning opportunities should be available for everyone .Participants thought it was important for society to support ongoing learning, whether for research, re-training or for personal development, and to support the creation of knowledge through research. The wisdom passed from one generation to another was seen to provide a crucial link across generations and to contribute to the cultural fabric and strength of society.

Community connections and diversity

Australians aspire to support each other and embrace diversity.
  • Community relationships
  • Community support
  • Respect for difference
  • Cultural activity and participation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures
  • Shared identity
Australians thought it was important for individuals to feel connected with, contribute to, feel included in and valued by their community beyond their family and friends. An important aspect of this relationship was reciprocity, where people both give to and receive from the community. Connectedness was seen as something that can be built through quality interactions, for example through cultural activities, volunteering and services provided within the community. It can be evident in the shared sense of identity that communities and Australians have. Diversity was also valued, and linked with our ability to be resilient and innovative. While people may not embrace the lifestyles of others, respect for difference – whether cultural difference, social difference or one of the many other ways people differ from one another – was considered a basic Australian value. This idea of respect for difference included the value Australians place on Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

A fair go

Australians aspire to a fair society that enables everyone to meet their needs.
  • Meeting basic needs
  • Services
  • Education, training and information
  • Employment
  • Income
  • Infrastructure
  • Assistance for vulnerable people
A strong theme throughout the MAP consultation was that all Australians should have an equal opportunity to establish, improve and maintain their well-being, and have access to the services and opportunities that support this. This echoes the familiar Australian tradition of egalitarianism. It includes the ability of people to meet their basic needs, build their capabilities, gain income through employment and access information. It also relates to the quality and availability of infrastructure such as transport, which underpins these activities. The idea of an equal opportunity, or a fair go, was seen as particularly important for those who are at vulnerable points in their lives or who are marginalised or disadvantaged.

Enriched lives

Australians aspire to value all aspects of life that are important to people and enrich their lives.
  • Feelings
  • Giving
  • Time and opportunity
  • Recreation and sport
  • Popular culture and the arts
  • Spirituality
Many aspects of life that increase well-being and make life worthwhile are not material but are intangible. Many participants in the consultation wanted to acknowledge that these factors are important in people’s lives. For example, many felt that emotions can be as important to people’s sense of well-being as their material conditions, and acts of altruism or caring can positively affect both the giver and receiver. Music, dance, art, poetry, film and the many forms of popular culture can bring depth and joy to peoples’ lives, and clarify our values and identity as individuals and as a nation. Australians have a love of sport and the outdoors, and value the bonding, relaxation and insights that leisure time pursuits bring. People felt their connections with one another, with their pets and with nature; their sense of a higher purpose, their deeper beliefs and motivations; and their sense of identity and cultural heritage; can enrich their lives and our society as a whole.