1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Dec 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2009   
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Tired? Stressed?
Take A Break This Christmas

If you’re feeling tired, stressed and in need of a break then you’re not alone.

That’s because as a nation we’re spending less time playing, sleeping, eating and drinking, but working longer!

Don’t lose sleep over it! In 2006, Australians slept for five minutes a day less than in 1997, down to an average of eight hours 31 minutes according to the ABS publication How Australians Use Their Time, 2006 (cat no. 4153.0). I don’t know about you, but I get nowhere that amount of sleep, especially if we take Friday nights as an example.

Women, though, are still getting their beauty sleep, as they reportedly spend an extra two minutes a day sleeping, and it shows! Or is it the extra 11 minutes a day on personal care that has them looking so good?

The survey also found that time spent eating and drinking also decreased by four minutes a day to one hour 29 minutes. Most people appreciate the concept of fast food, but I’m not sure about faster drinking. And I wouldn’t want to have the breakdown of my eating time versus drinking time published, could be a bit embarrassing.

So who says we’re all becoming couch potatoes? Well, give that person a gold star! Sadly, recreation time is estimated to have fallen by one hour 45 minutes per week since 1997, while we’re spending on average an extra hour a week on activities such as watching television and using the Internet than we did in 1997.

Conversely, time spent on sport and outdoor activity has decreased by nearly an hour compared to an average week in 1997. Must be the Twenty/20 effect; same game, just done at breakneck pace.

Naturally (or is it?), men spend longer doing formal work (50% more time on the job). But if we include things like domestic activities into the mix, then women actually spend more time (an extra 4%) engaged in productive activities. Who would have guessed that?

Flora in Kings Park (Photo courtesy of Hannah-Beth Weeks)
(Flora in Kings Park)
So it’s no wonder we’re feeling stressed! According to the ABS General Social Survey (cat no. 4159.0), in 2006, 63% of all Western Australians experienced at least one “stressor”* in the previous 12 months, which was above the national average.

It is difficult to reconcile this finding as the mighty West Coast Eagles won the AFL flag in 2006 and all Western Australians, even Dockers fans, should have been in a state of euphoria. I know I was.

Interestingly, those in the age group of 45-54 years recorded a 70% rate of experiencing a stressor, possibly indicating the challenges involved in rearing teenage kids (see the article on page eight for information on this topic) and taking advice from ageing parents.

Meanwhile those aged 65-74 years recorded only 48% having stressors, which may be due to the golden years of retirement, handing out free advice (whether asked for or not) and taking great enjoyment in spending the kids’ inheritance (pure speculation on my part, as I like to think I’m still a young buck).

But it seems that living in a boom state and working our behinds off also means we don’t get to have contact with friends or family as much. Both WA and Queensland had the lowest rates in the nation on this measure of wellbeing. To regain these connections there may need to be a “recession we had to have”?

Persons Attending Cultural Venues And Events, WA, 2005-06

Need a Break?
But don’t worry, relief is available. Why not take advantage of the strong Aussie dollar and escape to an exotic overseas destination. From ABS statistics on short-term departures by air on holiday, Overseas Arrivals and Departures (cat. no. 3401.0), West Aussies undertook 472,000 OS trips in 2008-09.

It appears that what we enjoy most is relaxing in a tropical clime, whilst kicking back and sipping on a refreshing ‘mango daiquiri’ (complete with miniature umbrella), as indicated by almost 60% of travellers visiting our South-East Asian neighbours.

The top destinations were Bali (also known as Indonesia) at 31%, the former Kingdom of Siam (Thailand) with 12%, and the Lion City, Singapore and Truly Asia, Malaysia (both over 7%). Those well known abbreviated destinations, the UK and NZ, were also popular destinations, with both taking over 6% of our overseas departures.

Or if it’s a cheap domestic holiday that you’re after then why not get back to basics and head off to one of the 197 caravan parks in WA. As of the June quarter 2009 there were 37 caravan parks on the Coral Coast, 31 in the North West, 57 in the South West, 49 in Perth, and 23 in the Golden Outback according to Tourist Accommodation, Small Area Data (cat. no. 8635.0.55.002).

Picnic Area in Kings Park  (Photo Courtesy of Tourism WA)
Picnic Area in Kings Park
(Photo Courtesy of Tourism WA)

If you do decide to stay put, there are still other options to get away from it all. Going to the movies offers a ‘great escape’ for a couple of hours or so and remains our most popular cultural activity. It’s the younger generation who are going most, with the vast majority (93%) of 15-17 year old Australians seeing at least one movie in 2005-06. I suspect this is a win-win result for both parents and teenagers (Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2005-06 cat. no. 4114.0).

They say that music is ‘food for the soul’ so there should be a lot of fat West Aussies if that’s true. Some 31% attended a popular music concert, 15% attended a musical or opera and 11% went to a classical concert in 2005-06. If they all went on the same night, and there was no overlap, over half the population would have got some form of musical entertainment. Or if you’re after something a little less noisy, then why not take your pick of fantasy, crime, Jane Austen or Fabio down at the peaceful environs of your local library, which attracted 37% of the WA population. Maybe the other 63% couldn’t read the sign out the front?

And don’t forget to smell the roses whilst picnicking down at your local park. Botanic gardens not only attract birds, butterflies and tai chi enthusiasts, but also 33% of all Western Australians. So make the most of your summer break and here’s to a great 2010!

Greg Hilton
Article by Greg Hilton, Client Liaison Unit
Cool, calm and collected.

* ‘stressor’ is fancy statistical term for events or conditions which adversely impact on an individual’s life or the collective lives of families or close friends. You may know it by such terms as bummer, downer or absolute shocker.