How Aussies reacted in a year of COVID-19

A personal look at the effect of COVID-19 on our health, wellbeing, lifestyle, finances and employment.

Released
17/03/2021

It’s been an historic year for all Aussies since major COVID-19 restrictions were introduced by the Prime Minister on 18 March 2020. Australia might have fared better than some of our counterparts overseas, but the impacts on our lives has been no less significant.

The ABS has taken a look at how Aussies responded to COVID-19 and the impacts it had on our health, wellbeing, lifestyle, finances and employment. See how Aussies dealt with our ‘new normal’ by exploring data from our key statistical releases, main economic indicators and COVID-19 rapid response products.

The animated version of the below infographic is available on the ABS YouTube channel.

    How Aussies reacted in a year of COVID-19
    We took COVID-19 precautions in April (bar graph). Kept distance from people: Men 98%, Women 99%. Avoided public spaces: Men 84%, Women 92%. Cancelled personal gatherings: Men 84%, Women 89%. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19, April 1-6.

    We focused on our health. 3 in 10 Aussies made physical health a priority. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19, January 2021.

    We moved out of the city. 11,200 of us moved to regional areas in the September quarter—the largest net loss in 20 years. Source: Regional internal migration estimates, provisional, September 2020.

    We felt the pinch. In April, 1 in 3 people’s household finances worsened. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19, April 2020.

    We worked from home more compared to before COVID-19 – 30% in February 2020 compared to 49% in February 2021. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19 February 2021.

    We panic bought, especially canned food, pasta, rice and toilet paper. Bar-graph depicts spike in non-perishable goods from January to May 2020. Source: Supermarket spending, December 2020 - Supplementary COVID-19 analysis.

    We felt lonely and overwhelmed. In early May 22% of us were suffering loneliness. In April, 1 in 4 of us felt like everything was an effort. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, April 29 – May 4 and Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, April 14-17.

    We loved our pets. 35% spent more time with pets.

    We had more screen time. 44% of us spent more time on phones, computers and watching TV.

    Looking ahead… We want some things to continue.Most of us will get the vaccine – 3 in 4 Aussies said we would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, December 2020. 1 in 3 want to spend more time with family and friends and 1 in 4 want: less environmental impact, to spend less/save more, and a slower pace of life. Source: Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, November 2020.

    Once we overcame an epidemic of panic buying, some of us used lockdown to start a new exercise regime. We also spent more time on screens, working, studying or bingeing on our favourite shows.

    Regardless of our quarantine activities, most Aussies understood the importance of keeping Australia safe. Often over 90 per cent of Aussies practised social distancing and now almost half of us with jobs continue to work from home.

    Some of us did it tougher than others with 22 per cent reporting feeling lonely in May and 1 in 3 households worse off financially in April. However, 2021 is a new year and with 3 out of 4 Aussies indicating they will take the vaccine, 1 in 3 wanting to continue spending more time with our families and 1 in 4 wanting to continue a slower pace of life, Aussies keep on demonstrating our resilience.

    The ABS has been measuring the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 webpage for more detail and analysis.

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