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Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey

Insights into the prevalence and nature of impacts from COVID-19 on households in Australia.

Reference period
April 2021
Released
18/05/2021

Key statistics

  • In April 2021, 67% of people reported excellent or very good support from family or friends when needed.
  • Fewer people (10%) experienced loneliness in April 2021, than in October 2020 (19%).
  • One in three (32%) accessed government, health or other services online in the previous four weeks.

About this issue

This publication presents results from the Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, a longitudinal survey which collects information from the same panel each month. The April 2021 survey was run between 16 and 25 April 2021 via online forms and telephone interviews. The survey included 3,541 continuing participants, a response rate of 90% of the total panel.

The April 2021 survey collected information on:

  • social connection
  • personal and household stressors
  • mental health services (need for and use)
  • digital services (including government, health and other services)
  • attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines
  • symptom testing behaviours
  • expectations for household income, saving and spending
  • participation in selected activities
  • housing mobility
  • job status.

The scope of the survey was people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas).

About this collection

This survey is designed to provide a quick snapshot of the changing social and economic situation for Australian households with particular focus on how they are faring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each cycle collects information on different topics.

From 1 April to 10 July 2020, the survey was conducted fortnightly with the same panel for eight cycles. From August 2020, a new panel of respondents was selected for a monthly survey. Panel members have rotated, with new members added in November 2020 and March 2021. The results for all past surveys can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases’ in the header of this publication.

Some topics have been repeated in both the fortnightly and monthly surveys. Where relevant, comparisons are made based on the weighted representative data for both surveys. The monthly survey gathered information via online forms and telephone interviews. The previous fortnightly survey was collected via the telephone only. This change in survey methodology means that comparing topics across the two survey iterations should be treated with caution.

Proportions marked with an asterisk (*) have a Margin of Error (MoE) greater than 10 percentage points which should be considered when using this information. For more information about MoEs refer to the publication Methodology.

COVID-19 pandemic progress and interventions

From 16 to 25 April 2021, when this survey was conducted, states and territories identified new cases of COVID-19 predominately from overseas. The risk of further transmission was managed through hotel quarantine. Local transmission was identified as the source of one case in Western Australian and one in Victoria.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, initiatives in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and support the economy included:

  • ongoing international travel restrictions 
  • border control measures for some states and territories
  • two economic stimulus packages (12 March and 22 March 2020)
  • a safety net package of $1.1 billion to expand mental health and Telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief (29 March 2020)
  • stimulus payments including:
    • a Coronavirus Supplement paid fortnightly from 27 April 2020 to eligible income support recipients along with their usual payments (reduced in September 2020 and January 2021, and ended 31 March 2021)
    • a JobKeeper Payment passed in legislation on 15 April 2020 and paid to employers to keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the COVID-19 restrictions (reduced to include two tiers in September 2020 and January 2021, and ended 28 March 2021)
  • various restrictions, including shutting down non-essential services, limits on gatherings and social distancing rules from March 2020
  • a guided easing of these restrictions in many states and territories using the National Cabinet agreed three step framework introduced in early May 2020
  • a COVID-19 vaccination program from February 2021.

In between the March and April survey, Queensland implemented a three-day lockdown in Greater Brisbane to manage local transmission of COVID-19. Western Australia implemented a three-day lockdown in Perth and Peel regions in the final days of the April survey. Apart from the short lockdowns, all states and territories have eased restrictions other than for large gatherings or occasions where social distancing is difficult. Most jurisdictions require facemasks to be worn at airports and for air travel.

Participation in the COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia is in phases. At the time of the survey phases 1a and 1b were active. Eligible participants include:

  • phase 1a - quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers, and aged care and disability care staff and residents
  • phase 1b – adults aged 70 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over, adults (aged 18 years and over) with an underlying medical condition or with disability, other health care workers (not already in phase 1a), household contacts of quarantine and border workers, critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

Social connections

Key findings

  • In April 2021, 92% of Australians reported doing activities with family or friends in the last four weeks.
  • In April 2021, 67% of Australians rated their ability to get support from family or friends when they needed it in the last four weeks as excellent or very good.
  • Almost one in two (47%) Australians reported having an excellent or very good sense of being part of a group or community.
  • People without a job (10%) were more likely to report a poor sense of being part of a group or community than people with a job (6%).

Social connections

The survey asked a number of questions selected from the Living in the Community Questionnaire - Summary, developed by the Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network (AMHOCN), to assess social support and societal participation of Australians in the last four weeks.

The selected questions asked respondents about:

  • activities with family or friends
  • activities with community groups or clubs
  • participation in organised volunteer work
  • their sense of being part of a community
  • their confidence to have a say about issues that are important to them
  • their ability to get support from family and friends when needed.

Participation in social activities

For April 2021, in the last four weeks:

  • 92% of Australians reported doing activities with family or friends
  • 39% reported doing activities with community groups or clubs
  • 15% reported participating in organised volunteer work.

Women were more likely than men to have participated in organised volunteer work (17% compared with 13%).

One in four (23%) people aged 65 years and over participated in organised volunteer work, compared with 13% of people aged 18 to 64 years.

One in two (50%) people aged 65 years and over participated in activities with community groups or clubs, compared with around one in three (36%) people aged 18 to 64 years.

Feeling socially connected

In April 2021:

  • 67% of Australians rated their ability to get support from family or friends when they needed it in the last four weeks as excellent or very good
  • 47% reported having an excellent or very good sense of being part of a group or community
  • 60% reported having an excellent or very good level of confidence to have a say about issues that are important to them.
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For April 2021, in the last four weeks women were more likely than men to rate their ability to get support from family or friends when they needed it as excellent or very good (71% compared with 62%).

In the last four weeks, people aged 65 years and over were more likely than people aged 18 to 64 years to:

  • rate their ability to get support from family or friends when they needed it as excellent or very good (76% compared with 64%)
  • have an excellent or very good sense of being part of a group or community (55% compared with 45%)
  • report excellent or very good levels of confidence to have a say about issues important to them (68% compared with 58%).

Although poor was the least common response across all Australians, some groups were more likely to report poor levels of social connection than others.

In the last four weeks, a rating of poor for the ability to get support from family or friends when needed was more likely to be reported by:

  • people aged 18 to 64 years (4%) than people aged 65 years and over (2%)
  • people living alone (6%) than people living in family households with children (3%) and without children (2%)
  • people without a job (6%) than people with a job (3%)
  • people with a mental health condition (7%) than people without a mental health condition (3%)
  • people with disability (7%) than people without disability (3%)
  • people with a long-term health condition (5%) than people without a long-term health condition (2%).

A poor sense of being part of a group or community was more likely to be reported by:

  • men (9%) than women (5%)
  • people aged 18 to 64 years (8%) than people aged 65 years and over (5%)
  • people living alone (11%) than people living in family households with children (6%) and without children (5%)
  • people without a job (10%) than people with a job (6%)
  • people with a mental health condition (18%) than people without a mental health condition (5%)
  • people with disability (12%) than people without disability (5%)
  • people with a long-term health condition (10%) than people without a long-term health condition (4%).

A poor level of confidence to have their own say about important issues was more likely to be reported by:

  • men (5%) than women (3%)
  • people aged 18 to 64 years (4%) than people aged 65 years and over (2%)
  • people with disability (6%) than people without disability (3%)
  • people with a long-term health condition (5%) than people without a long-term health condition (3%).

Stressors

Key findings

  • In April 2021, around one in four (23%) Australians reported experiencing one or more personal stressors in the last four weeks due to COVID-19, compared with 38% in October 2020.
  • One in 10 (10%) Australians reported experiencing loneliness in the last four weeks, compared with 19% in October 2020.
  • More than one in four (26%) people aged 18 to 34 years reported experiencing one or more personal stressors due to COVID-19, compared with one in six (16%) people aged 65 years and over.
  • In April 2021, one in nine (11%) Australians reported someone in their household had experienced one or more of the selected household stressors, down from one in five (19%) in October 2020.

Personal stressors

Personal stressors are events or conditions that occur in a person's life that may adversely impact on the health and wellbeing of the individual or their family. Australians were asked whether they had experienced selected stressors in the previous four weeks in April 2021, October 2020, June 2020 and April 2020.

The stressors included:

  • involuntary loss of a job
  • the inability to get a job
  • rental, mortgage or financial stress
  • problems maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • problems managing current health concerns, mental health or chronic conditions
  • relationship difficulties
  • loneliness
  • problems with smoking.

At the time of the April 2021 survey, most states and territories had eased restrictions, and the Australian COVID-19 vaccination program had commenced for eligible participants. For comparison, at the time of the October 2020 survey, strong restrictions were still in place in Victoria after the second wave of COVID-19 emerged from mid-June. People in Victoria reported higher levels for most stressors which influenced the October results.

In April 2021 around one in four (23%) Australians reported experiencing one or more personal stressors in the last four weeks due to COVID-19, compared with 38% in October 2020. 

One in 10 (10%) Australians reported experiencing loneliness in the last four weeks, compared with 19% in October 2020.

Compared with October 2020, around half as many Australians in April 2021 reported experiencing:

  • problems maintaining a healthy lifestyle (8% compared with 16% in October 2020)
  • problems managing health concerns (6% compared with 11% in October 2020)
  • relationship difficulties (5% compared with 9% in October 2020).
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  1. Respondents may have experienced more than one personal stressor. Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where a person has experienced more than one personal stressor, they are counted separately for each personal stressor but are counted only once in the aggregated total
  2. Includes managing current health concerns, mental health or chronic conditions
  3. Refers to the four weeks before 29 Apr - 4 May 2020
  4. Refers to the four weeks before 24 - 29 Jun 2020
  5. Refers to the four weeks before 16 – 23 Oct 2020
  6. Refers to the four weeks before 16 – 25 Apr 2021

In April 2021:

  • one in four (25%) women reported experiencing one or more personal stressors due to COVID-19, compared with around one in five (21%) men
  • more women than men reported loneliness (13% compared with 7%) and problems managing health concerns (7% compared with 4%)
  • more than one in four (26%) people aged 18 to 34 years reported experiencing one or more personal stressors due to COVID-19, compared with one in six (16%) people aged 65 years and over
  • 13% of people aged 18 to 34 years reported experiencing loneliness, compared with 8% of people aged 65 years and over
  • 11% of people aged 18 to 34 years reported experiencing problems maintaining a healthy lifestyle, compared with 6% of people aged 65 years and over.

Household stressors

The survey also asked people in April whether anyone in their household experienced selected household stressors due to COVID-19 in the previous four weeks, including unemployment, or stress related to rent, mortgage or finances. The following data combines results for the personal stressors of individuals with their responses for others in the household.

In April 2021, one in nine (11%) Australians reported someone in their household had experienced one or more of the selected household stressors. This compares with almost one in five (19%) in October 2020, one in seven (15%) in June, and around one in five (22%) in April 2020.

Comparing April 2021 and October 2020, Australians reported one or more people in their household experiencing:

  • not being able to get a job (3% in April, down from 10% in October)
  • involuntary job loss (1% in April, down from 3% in October)
  • problems paying the mortgage for their home or an investment property (2% in April, down from 5% in October)
  • difficulty paying the rent, or a fear of eviction (4% in both April and October).

For those who live in a home owned with a mortgage, problems paying the mortgage for their home or investment property was reported by one in 20 (5%) households in April 2021, down from one in nine (11%) in October 2020.

For those living in rented dwellings, one in nine (11%) reported that someone in the household experienced some form of rental stress i.e. difficulty paying the rent, or a fear of eviction. This has remained unchanged since first collected in April 2020.

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  1. Household members may have experienced more than one stressor. Components are not able to be added together to produce a total. Where household members have experienced more than one stressor, they are counted separately for each stressor but are counted only once in the aggregated total
  2. Includes if the respondent lost their job in the last four weeks due to COVID-19
  3. Proportions of all persons, regardless of tenure
  4. Refers to the four weeks before 29 Apr - 4 May 2020
  5. Refers to the four weeks before 24 - 29 Jun 2020
  6. Refers to the four weeks before 16 – 23 Oct 2020
  7. Refers to the four weeks before 16 – 25 Apr 2021

Mental health services

Key findings

  • In April 2021, around one in six (18%) Australians aged 18 years and over reported using at least one mental health or support service since 1 March 2020.
  • More than one in five (22%) women used at least one mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, compared with around one in seven (14%) men.
  • Two in three (67%) people who used a mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, received counselling.

Use of mental health or support services during COVID-19

In April 2021, the survey asked Australians aged 18 years and over about their use of mental health or support services since 1 March 2020. The services asked about were:

  • general practitioners (GPs) for mental health
  • psychologists, psychiatrists or other mental health specialists
  • other health workers such as social workers, nurses and occupational therapists
  • crisis support or counselling services such as Lifeline
  • online mental health information such as Head to Health.

In April 2021, around one in six (18%) Australians reported using at least one mental health or support service since 1 March 2020. The most frequently used services were:

  • GPs for mental health reasons (12%)
  • psychologists, psychiatrists or other mental health specialists (10%)
  • online mental health information (3%).

More than one in five (22%) women used at least one mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, compared with around one in seven (14%) men.

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In April 2021, one in five (20%) people aged 18 to 64 years reported using at least one mental health or support service, compared with one in ten (10%) people aged 65 years and older.

Types of help received from mental health and support services

In April 2021, people who had used a mental health or support service since 1 March 2020 were asked whether they received the following types of help from those services:

  • information about mental health, its treatment, and available services
  • medicines or tablets
  • counselling or talking therapies.

People who received one or more of these types of help were also asked whether they felt they had received enough of this help.

Three in five (60%) people who used a mental health or support service since 1 March 2020 received information about mental health. Of these, 84% felt they had received enough information.

Around one in two (49%) people who used a mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, received medicines. Of these people, 85% felt they had received enough medicine.

Two in three (67%) people who used a mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, received counselling. Of these, 71% felt they had received enough counselling.

Digital services

Key findings

  • In April 2021, around one third (32%) of Australians accessed or used at least one government, health or other service online in the previous four weeks.
  • Almost one in three (30%) Australians reported they now prefer to access health related services online more, compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of a digital service in the previous four weeks

In April, the survey asked about accessing and using government, health and other services in the previous four weeks. This could be in person, over the phone, by video conferencing, or through other communication technologies.

Services included:

  • housing service or crisis and/or supported accommodation
  • job search or other employment support service
  • youth support service (e.g. Headspace digital work and study service, PCYC)
  • family or parenting support program (excluding childcare)
  • financial crisis support services (e.g. National Debt Hotline)
  • domestic and family violence services
  • alcohol and other drugs support services.

In the previous four weeks, one in 13 (8%) people used one or more of the selected services. The most commonly used services were job search and other employment services (6%).

Of the people using a select service in the previous four weeks, almost three in four (74%) accessed the service online.

The survey then asked about access to other online government and health services, including:

  • a government service portal or agency website
  • a Telehealth appointment booking service
  • an 'electronic prescription' service
  • DigitalHealth.gov.au
  • Health Direct
  • Head to Health.

In the previous four weeks, around one third (32%) of Australians accessed or used one or more of these online services.

Those who accessed these services online were more likely to be: 

  • women (35%) than men (28%)
  • people in family households with children (36%) than those living alone (28%).

The most commonly used services were:

  • a government service portal or agency website (24%)
  • a Telehealth appointment booking service (8%)
  • an ‘electronic prescription’ service (4%).

People reported using the services for the following purposes:

  • to register for services, lodge a form or make payments (48%)
  • to find information on services or resources (24%)
  • to find information about COVID-19 (19%)
  • required activity as a part of an agreement (e.g. Centrelink) (17%).

Of the people who used an online service in the previous four weeks, the reasons included:

  • convenience (e.g. can access from anywhere) (62%)
  • saves time (35%)
  • only access option available (25%)
  • don’t have to travel (21%)
  • preferred online (20%).

Of those who did not access or use an online health, community or government service in the previous four weeks, the most common reasons were:

  • preferred to speak in person (28%)
  • not recommended or suitable for resolving issue or question (8%)
  • not available (7%)
  • didn’t have or can’t use the required technology (7%).

Use of a Telehealth service in the previous four weeks

In April, almost one in seven (14%) Australians used a Telehealth service in the previous four weeks, a decrease from November (18%), June (20%) and May 2020 (17%).

Those who used a Telehealth service in the previous four weeks were more likely to be:

  • women (19%) than men (9%)
  • people with disability (21%) than those without disability (12%)
  • people with a long-term health condition (19%) than those without a long-term health condition (10%).
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The most common uses of a Telehealth service in the previous four weeks were:

  • as a replacement for a face-to-face or physical appointment with a health professional (61% in April 2021 and 70% in November 2020)
  • for a prescription (32% April, 34% November)
  • managing a chronic health condition (15% April, 13% November)
  • for a mental health service (14% April, 18% November).

In April 2021, of those who used a Telehealth service in the previous four weeks, the most common reasons were:

  • convenience (e.g. can access from anywhere) (63%)
  • saves time (42%)
  • don't have to travel (38%).

In April, almost one in three (30%) Australians reported they now prefer to access health related services online more, compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic (since March 2020). These people were more likely to be:

  • women (34%) than men (26%)
  • people aged 18 to 34 years (38%)
  • family households with children (39%) than family households without children (29%) and people living alone (19%).

COVID-19 vaccines

Key findings

  • In April, 68% of Australians agreed or strongly agreed that they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and is recommended for them, a decrease from February 2021 (73%).
  • The factors that would most affect the decision to get vaccinated were whether the vaccine has been in use for a long time with no serious side-effects (30%) and whether it is recommended by their GP or other health professional (26%) or a Department of Health (17%).
  • For people who disagreed or strongly disagreed, or neither agreed nor disagreed, that they would get a COVID-19 vaccination, the main reasons people may not get one were concerns relating to potential side-effects (62%) and effectiveness of the vaccine (12%).

Attitudes about COVID-19 vaccines

In April, the survey asked how strongly people agreed or disagreed with statements about a COVID-19 vaccine. Similar questions were asked in February 2021.

At the time of the survey, Phase 1 of the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia had begun. This included people aged 70 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over, people with disability or an underlying medical condition and a range of workers in specific roles. People who had already received the vaccine were included with the strongly agree responses.

In April, 68% of Australians agreed or strongly agreed that they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and is recommended for them, a decrease from February 2021 (73%). 

Those who agreed or strongly agreed with getting a COVID-19 vaccine were more likely to be:

  • men (72%) than women (64%)
  • people aged 70 years and over (83%) than those aged 18 to 34 years (68%), 35 to 49 years (60%) and 50 to 69 years (69%)
  • people in family households without children (72%) and those living alone (70%) than those in family households with children (60%).

One in eight (13%) people disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and is recommended for them, an increase from February 2021 (10%).

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  1. In April 2021 respondents who indicated that they had already had a COVID-19 vaccination were coded as ‘strongly agree’

Factors affecting decision to get COVID-19 vaccination

In April 2021, for people who said they would get the vaccination when it was available to them, the factors most affecting the decision were:

  • whether the vaccine has been in use for a long time with no serious side-effects (30%, similar to 27% in February 2021)
  • a recommendation from their GP or other health professional (26%, an increase from 21% in February 2021)
  • the recommendation from a Department of Health (17%, a decrease from 23% in February 2021).

People who disagreed or strongly disagreed (13%), or neither agreed nor disagreed (19%), that they would get a COVID-19 vaccination were asked the main reason why they may not get one. The most common reasons were:

  • concerns relating to potential side-effects (62%, an increase from 54% in February 2021)
  • concerns about how effective a COVID-19 vaccine might be (12%, a decrease from 20% in February 2021).

COVID-19 testing

Key findings

  • In April, just under half (48%) of Australians reported they would definitely get a COVID-19 test if they had mild respiratory infection symptoms, similar to February 2021 (51%) and December 2020 (50%). 

Likelihood of getting a COVID-19 test for respiratory infection symptoms

In April 2021, just under half (48%) of Australians reported they would definitely get a COVID-19 test if they had mild respiratory infection symptoms, similar to February 2021 (51%) and December 2020 (50%).

Those who would definitely get a COVID-19 test if they had mild respiratory infection symptoms were more likely to be:

  • people aged 65 years and over (57%) than those aged 35 to 64 years (47%) and 18 to 34 years (43%) 
  • people in Victoria (56%), New South Wales (49%) and Queensland (48%) than those in South Australia (37%) and Western Australia (31%)
  • people in family households without children (53%) and living alone (52%) than those in family households with children (37%).

In April, common reasons people would not get a COVID-19 test if they had mild respiratory infection symptoms included:

  • if they thought the symptoms were unrelated to COVID-19 (60%)
  • if there were few or no cases of COVID-19 where they live (50%)
  • if they did not feel the symptoms were serious enough (44%)
  • if they had not been in contact with anyone who had COVID-19 symptoms (38%).
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Of those who may not get a COVID-19 test for mild symptoms, more than two thirds (68%) reported they would definitely get a COVID-19 test if the symptoms were severe, similar to February (71%).

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  1. Does not include persons 18 years and over who would definitely get a COVID-19 test for mild symptoms

Income and savings

Key findings

  • In April 2021, one in four (25%) Australians expected their household income to increase over the next 12 months, while one in 10 (10%) Australians expected a decrease.
  • Almost two in five (38%) Australians earning $3,000 or more weekly expected an increase in income, compared with one in nine (11%) earning between $400 to $649 per week.
  • Over the next 12 months, over one in five (22%) Australians plan to use their current or expected savings on travel, one in seven (15%) plan to renovate their home and one in 10 (10%) plan to build or buy a home.

Expected household income

Over the next 12 months:

  • 25% of Australians expected their household income to increase
  • 64% of Australians expected their household income to stay the same
  • 10% of Australians expected their household income to decrease.

Of the Australians who expected to see their household income increase over the next 12 months, an increase between 1% to 5% was the most common expectation.

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  1. Proportion who expect income to stay the same (64%) is included in the total (denominator) but not included in the graph

When broken down by main source of household income (MSHI) there are significant differences in the expected change to household income. Almost one in three (31%) people where the MSHI is through wages and salaries expect their household income to increase over the next 12 months, compared with one in seven (15%) where the MSHI is through government pensions and allowances.

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  1. ‘Other sources’ include:
    1. Superannuation, an annuity or private pension
    2. Profit or loss from own unincorporated business or share in a partnership
    3. Profit or loss from a rental investment property
    4. Any other regular source such as interest, dividends, scholarships, silent partnerships, child support, workers compensation

When broken down by total weekly household income (TWHI) there are also significant differences in the expected change to household income. Almost two in five (38%) Australians where the TWHI is $3,000 or more per week expect their household income to increase over the next 12 months, compared with one in nine (11%) where the TWHI is between $400 to $649 per week.

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  1. Refers to gross total household income before tax or Medicare levy is taken out

Expected household savings

The survey also asked questions on household savings and planned actions with money already saved or expected to save.

Over the next 12 months:

  • 52% of Australians expect their household to be able to save money
  • 24% of Australians do not know if their household will be able to save money
  • 23% of Australians expect their household will not be able to save money.

Plans to use current or expected savings over the next 12 months include:

  • travel (22%)
  • renovating the home (15%)
  • buying or building a house (10%).
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  1. Respondents may have reported more than one action planned for their savings. Components are not able to be added together to produce a total

Spending

Key findings

  • In April 2021, three in 10 (29%) Australians expected their household spending to increase over the next 12 months.
  • Around one in 13 (8%) Australians expected their spending to decrease over the next 12 months.

Expected household spending

In April 2021, the survey asked questions on expected household spending over the next 12 months. Household spending included:

  • groceries
  • take-away or delivered meals
  • cafés, restaurants, pubs, clubs or bars
  • clothing or footwear
  • personal care (e.g. hairdressers, barbers, beauty services and products)
  • household furnishings and equipment (e.g. sofas, desks, electrical goods)
  • motor vehicle costs (e.g. fuel, repairs)
  • public transport
  • taxi and ride-sharing fares
  • recreation or leisure activities (e.g. going to cinemas, playing sports, gym)
  • household expenses (e.g. rent, mortgage, utilities, maintenance, improvements).

Over the next 12 months:

  • 29% of Australians expect their household spending to increase
  • 63% of Australians expect their household spending to stay the same
  • 8% of Australians expect their household spending to decrease.
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  1. Proportion who expect spending to stay the same (63%) is included in the total (denominator) but not included in the graph

When broken down by main source of household income (MSHI), over the next 12 months:

  • 33% of Australians whose MSHI is through government pensions and allowances expect their household spending to increase
  • 28% of Australians whose MSHI is through wages and salaries expect their household spending to increase.
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  1. ‘Other sources’ include:
    1. Superannuation, an annuity or private pension
    2. Profit or loss from own unincorporated business or share in a partnership
    3. Profit or loss from a rental investment property
    4. Any other regular source such as interest, dividends, scholarships, silent partnerships, child support, workers compensation

When broken down by total weekly household income (TWHI), over the next 12 months:

  • 34%* of Australians whose TWHI is between $1 to $399 per week expect their household spending to increase
  • 28% of Australians whose TWHI is between $1,500 to $2,999 per week expect their household spending to increase.
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  1. Refers to gross total household income before tax or Medicare levy is taken out

Activities

Key findings

  • For April 2021, in the last four weeks fewer people with jobs worked from home compared with February 2021 (36% compared with 41%) and more people used public transport (15% compared with 11%).
  • People born overseas were more likely than those born in Australia to report the COVID-19 pandemic had at least somewhat limited how often they participated in activities in the last four weeks (35% compared with 27%).

Participation in activities

The survey asked people to reflect on how often they participated in selected activities in the last four weeks. The same topic was asked in February 2021, December, October and September 2020. For comparison, participation before COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020 has also been collected.

At the time of the survey, most restrictions had eased or lifted in locations across Australia. In April 2021, several states and territories lifted any remaining caps on numbers for public venues and large events. A three-day lockdown was implemented in Perth and Peel regions in Western Australia towards the end of the survey due to COVID-19 cases which came from local sources.

In April 2021, the biggest increase in participation in comparison to February 2021 was for:

  • visiting bars or restaurants in person (41% visiting one or more times a week in April 2021 compared with 30% in February 2021)
  • attending social gatherings of more than ten people (25% attending one or more times a week in April 2021 compared with 14% in February 2021).

School holidays and Easter may have impacted on participation in these activities.

Comparing April 2021 with before COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020:

  • more people with jobs worked from home one or more times a week (36% in April 2021 compared with 24% before March 2020) – a decrease from 41% in February 2021
  • more Australians reported visits to bars and restaurants one or more times a week (41% in April 2021 compared with 35% before March 2020) – an increase from 30% in February 2021
  • fewer people used public transport one or more times a week (15% in April 2021 compared with 23% before March 2020) – an increase from 11% in February 2021.
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  1. Includes shopping in physical stores only
  2. Includes people 18 years and over with a job at the time of the survey
  3. Includes social gatherings of ten or more people
  4. Doing unpaid voluntary work for an organisation or group
  5. Going on holiday for two nights or more
  6. Usual participation in the activity before COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on participation

In April 2021, the survey asked whether the COVID-19 pandemic had limited how often people participated in the selected activities in the last four weeks.

In the last four weeks:

  • 42% reported the COVID-19 pandemic had not at all limited how often they participated in the selected activities
  • 29% reported the pandemic had slightly limited their participation
  • 29% reported the pandemic had at least somewhat limited their participation.

People born overseas were more likely than those born in Australia to report the COVID-19 pandemic had at least somewhat limited how often they participated in activities (35% compared with 27%).

Housing mobility

Key findings

  • In April 2021, one in seven (14%) people had moved their place of residence since March 2020.
  • One in 14 (7%) people had plans to move that were cancelled, changed or delayed due to the effects of COVID-19.
  • One in eight (12%) people said they were likely to move in the next 12 months.
  • Around one in seven (15%) of those likely to move in the next 12 months said COVID-19 was at least one of the reasons. 

Recent moves

In April 2021, one in seven (14%) people reported they had moved their place of residence since March 2020.

Of these:

  • 49% moved locally
  • 31% moved outside their local area, but still within their city or region
  • 13% moved to a different part of their state or territory
  • 7% moved interstate, or from overseas.

Planned moves affected by COVID-19

In April 2021, one in 14 (7%) people had plans to move in the last 12 months that were cancelled, changed or delayed due to the effects of COVID-19.

Of these, some of the impacts include:

  • delaying moving plans, but still expecting the move to go ahead (26%)
  • bringing forward moving plans and moving sooner than originally planned (5%).

For those who reported their moving plans had been affected by COVID-19, reasons included:

  • COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions (51%)
  • financial uncertainty (e.g. possible loss of job or hours) (42%*)
  • housing market disruption (e.g. prices dropped, fewer homes on the market) (26%)
  • financially not able to move (e.g. lost job, or hours, or business was affected) (21%*)
  • risk of COVID-19 transmission or infection (21%)
  • loss of opportunities (e.g. lack of jobs or other opportunities to move to) (18%).

Likely moves in the next 12 months

When asked in April 2021 if they were likely to move in the next 12 months:

  • 12% reported they were likely to move
  • 75% reported they were unlikely to move
  • 14% did not know if they would move.

For those likely to move in the next 12 months:

  • 15% said COVID-19 was the reason, or a reason, for being likely to move
  • 85% said COVID-19 was not a reason (or they didn’t know).

Of those who were not likely to move in the next 12 months, or were not sure, 6% reported they wanted to move, although they were unlikely to do so. 

Job status

Key findings

  • Australians who had a job working paid hours was the same in April 2021 (63%) and March 2021 (63%).

Current job status

The survey collected changes to the job status of Australians when interviewed in mid-April. Responses are weighted and comparisons are included to show how the employment status of people has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respondents were asked simple questions about changes to their job situation, rather than the full suite of employment-related questions included in the ABS’ Labour Force Survey (see the Labour Force Survey questionnaire, available from the Collection method chapter in the Labour force, Australia methodology publication). The results of this survey are, therefore, not directly comparable to Australia’s official Labour Force measures. The Margin of Error (MoE) on these estimates is greater than for Labour Force statistics (the Labour Force Survey sample is around 15 times larger). More information about measuring the labour market impacts of COVID-19 can be found here.

Australians who had a job working paid hours was the same in April 2021 (63%) and March 2021 (63%). The proportion of people who had a job and were not working paid hours has remained at a similar level since November 2020.

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Persons aged 18 years and over, self-reported job status
Aug-20(a)Sep-20(b)Oct-20(b)Nov-20(c)Dec-20(b)Jan-21(b)Feb-21(b)Mar-21(c)Apr-21(b)
Has a job68%68%67%67%67%67%68%66%67%
Working paid hours60%61%62%62%63%63%64%63%63%
Not working paid hours8%7%6%4%4%4%4%3%5%
Does not have a paid job(d)32%32%33%33%33%33%32%34%33%

 

  1. Job status reported mid-August
  2. Current job status based on changes between each collection
  3. Current job status based on changes between each collection for previous panel and reported status for new panel members
  4. Includes all people without a job and should be considered only a loose approximation for the combined “unemployed” and “not in the labour force” groups

 

The results of the most recent Labour Force Survey, with data in respect of the two weeks from 28 February to 13 March, collected over the three weeks from 7 to 27 March 2021, can be found using the following link: Labour Force, Australia, March 2021. The April 2021 results will be released 20 May 2021.

What’s next?

The ABS will follow up in May 2021 to undertake the tenth cycle of the monthly Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey. The topics include:

  • actions taken to manage health and mental health
  • attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines
  • domestic and international travel intentions
  • household finances
  • unpaid work on selected activities
  • arrangements for absences from work
  • job status.

Information from the May survey will be released in mid-June 2021.

The ABS would like to thank all participants for their involvement in the survey. The information collected is of value to inform government and community responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data downloads

Tables 1 - 26

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4940.0