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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‘I think progress for Australia would possess some of the following things. An Australia that: strives for excellence in the arts; leads the world in economic reform; that is open, inclusive and fosters positive social relationships between its fellow citizens; that retains a healthy sense of humour and larrikin quality; that minimises and limits the role of bureaucracy where safely possible and where feasible; that ensures the natural environment for posterity; that where feasible and able, maintain and improve the living conditions of Australians (especially the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous); that never forgets its history both good and bad; and perhaps most importantly (and underpinning all of these things), adequately educates and equips its citizens with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate an increasingly mobile and complex society.’ MJ

The following quotes were chosen from the broad range of comments gathered during the MAP social media campaign as being representative of the diverse views expressed. They have been grouped under common themes whose descriptions are based on the words of contributors. The comments were posted on the ABS blog.


Equity – ensuring equal ‘life opportunities’ are available to all; reducing disadvantage, (especially disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples);managing disparity between the highest and lowest incomes; and fairness and tolerance towards people with different backgrounds, cultures or lifestyles.

‘The concept of equity should perhaps be explored more broadly than income and wealth. What about equity of opportunity? I recognise this may cross over other themes, such as quality education and access to services, but I think we need to explore the possibility of measuring equity in terms of equality.’ Amy

‘Equity among all Australians (regardless of where they live) with indicators like education, access to social services, etc.’ Ken
‘Social justice – a country without massive inequalities of wealth distribution and “life opportunities”. This means providing solid educational opportunities to all.’ Heather

‘Equity between haves and have nots.’ Christine

Social relationships – feeling connected to family, friends and the broader community; caring for others and having time for relationships.

‘We should also put more value on social capital — the ways people of all ages can contribute to making society better. We could start by looking outwards for the needs of others instead of focusing on just ourselves as individuals. I believe that a happier nation is one where people look out for each other and have strong connections to ensure they are more resilient.’ Alice

‘Healthy networks of friends, family and colleagues.’ Ken

‘How about progress as measured by the quality and maybe amount, of our care for others — both for other species that share this earth with us as well as for those humans who have so much less than us?’ Gary

‘A healthy (mind, body and soul) work-life balance.’ Ken

Education – access and opportunity to undertake quality education.

‘For me the number of people in public education matters. My grandparents didn’t finish primary school, my parents didn’t finish high school and I had the opportunity to go to university. It changed my life. It wasn’t that I was smarter, it was because the access was better. I think if the numbers in public schools goes backwards then access to education will go backwards.’ Jules

‘Teacher/student ratios in public schools.’ Julie

Health – especially addressing mental health issues and increasing life expectancy.

‘Society focuses a lot on physical health without acknowledging the need for mental health support, it is widely seen as a weakness to suffer from mental health issues, and this creates a divide between the cause and treatment of it.’ Sophie

Housing – increasing affordable housing and reducing homelessness.

‘We need a society where there is an equal opportunity for all to satisfy basic human needs such as housing, and a safe environment to live, education, social and medical services.’ Reet

Happiness – living a happy and fulfilling life.

‘Progress is moving toward happiness universally.’ — Comment made on an external forum

Valuing non-economic aspects of life – moving away from using economic measures and starting to track the progress of other valuable, non-economic aspects of life.

‘We shouldn’t use GDP to measure other things that are important to Australian life. If we have the ability to determine what they are, and how to measure them, then we should be doing this.’ David



‘GDP is a good measure of economic production and correlates well with many other areas that are considered important in Australian life, but it does not measure them… if we know what Australians consider to be the most important aspects of life, then we should strive to clearly measure these things directly.’ David


‘Fostering of productive business and employment opportunities.’ John

‘Manufacturing needs to lifted up as vital for growth. We seem to be more reliant on financial investment than on creating ways of earning. The more manufacturing the more jobs will be created.’ Brian


‘And if growing productivity and jobs are goals - then diversity and room to move are needed for the innovations that make this possible.’ Robyn


‘Wealth is another key indicator, and emphasis should be put on the household balance sheet estimates in the Australian National Accounts, and the movement in those.’ Skipper


Many who contributed to the blog said it was important that Australia’s economy and population grow sustainably, so the natural environment and its resources are protected for future generations. For some, this involved valuing our environment, using more renewable energy or living sustainably, while for others it involved slower population growth. Some advocated moving away from concentrating solely on economic growth towards broader concepts of progress, well-being and sustainability. A common theme was to avoid development that is at the expense of future generations.

‘My main concern is sustainability and preserving the environment.’ Janice

‘The idea of increasing population growth to fuel economic growth ignores the natural limits of the environment in which we live. We need to first acknowledge then implement change to adapt more sustainable methods of energy production, food production and renewable based infrastructure (solar and wind).’ Alice

‘There is a need to adapt more sustainable methods of agriculture to sustain food production for the population without causing irreversible damage to our resources.’ Sophie


Good governance – including protecting freedoms, effective leadership and effective regulation

‘Freedom of thought and expression.’ John

‘A quality democracy with wide-spread community empowerment and involvement in local decision-making...’ Craig

‘One thing I find very important is freedom. Observing Australian society over the last ten years, I have seen progressively less freedom - and growing “social control”. The reliance on rules, regulations and other top-down mandates grows, while flexibility, innovation and “room to move” decreases accordingly.’ Robyn

‘Elimination of corruption and favouritism.’ John