4160.0.55.001 - Frameworks for Australian Social Statistics, Jun 2015  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/2015  First Issue
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Wellbeing is a broad and abstract term which describes a general aspiration for 'a good life', 'good quality of life' or 'high satisfaction with life'. It can be thought of from many points of view: a person, a family, a community, a population group, or from a societal perspective.

More than material living conditions (e.g. income, wealth, consumption, housing and possessions), the concept of wellbeing relates to:

  • how people feel (i.e. how happy are you?)
  • how people evaluate their lives (i.e. how satisfied are you with your life?)
  • whether people feel their life is worthwhile (i.e. the so-called eudaimonic measure).

In this conceptual framework, wellbeing also encompasses the elements:
  • who we are
  • what we do
  • where we live our lives
  • our connections
  • the wellbeing of others
  • the risks we face
  • our opportunities and barriers.


Social statistics reflect social issues, ideas, attitudes and behaviours, through quantitative and qualitative measurement. These measurements form a picture of social conditions and help monitor progress towards social goals, and inform the decisions of governments, community groups, organisations and individuals as they work to improve their conditions of life.


In the 1970s, the OECD (1976) first proposed that wellbeing could be measured by defining goal areas, or areas of concern, that were of fundamental importance to wellbeing. Based on this idea, Australian social statistics have traditionally focused on a set of aspirations for society.

In 2011-12, the ABS undertook a national consultation to better understand the aspirations and hopes of Australians for their and the nation's future. Based on this consultation, the ABS revised the set of aspirations to focus on the areas Australians said were most important to them. Each of these aspirations can be linked to a broad social statistics theme.


Social Statistics ThemeAspiration

Family and communityAustralians aspire to a society that nurtures relationships and where people support each other
HealthAustralians aspire to good health for all
Learning and knowledgeAustralians aspire to a society that values and enables learning
WorkAustralians aspire to satisfying and rewarding work
Economic wellbeingAustralians aspire to a fair society that enables everyone to meet their material needs
HousingAustralians aspire to have secure places to live that provide a sense of belonging and home, and are adequate to their needs
Crime and justiceAustralians aspire to a society where people are safe and feel safe; where justice systems are fair and accessible
Culture and leisureAustralians aspire to value all aspects of life that are important to people and enrich their lives
GovernanceAustralians aspire to a free society where governance processes are trusted and everyone is able to participate in decision making which affects their lives
Information and communication technologyAustralians aspire to be well-informed and connected
Built and natural environmentAustralians aspire to healthy natural and built environments, which they connect to, benefit from, care for and sustain for future generations
PopulationThe characteristics of Australia's population (such as its size and composition) influence, and in turn are influenced by, many aspects of wellbeing.


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD ), 1976, Measuring Social Well-Being: A Progress Report on the Development of Social Indicators.

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