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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
March 2022
Released
12/04/2022

Key statistics

  • Of those testing for COVID-19, 90% reported using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
  • 46% of Australians with a job worked from home one or more times a week in the last four weeks.
  • 20% of Australians reported the job situation of a household member changed due to COVID-19 in the last four weeks.

This is the second monthly Household Impacts of COVID-19 survey in 2022. The March 2022 survey was run from 11 to 20 March 2022 via telephone interviews. Over 2,480 people were approached with 2,162 fully responding participants, a response rate of 87%.

The results for all past surveys can be accessed by selecting ‘View all releases.’

While some topics are the same as in previous surveys, relying exclusively on telephone interviews differs from the past monthly iterations of the 2021 survey, which gathered information via both telephone interviews and online forms. Where results are compared over time, comparisons are made based on the weighted representative data for each survey.

Respondents to the survey were people aged 18 years and over in private dwellings across Australia (excluding very remote areas).

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 the survey design including weighting and MoEs refer to the Methodology.

COVID-19 context

At the time of the survey, a new Omicron sub variant of COVID-19 led to a rise in daily infections across Australia. Restrictions continued to lift in all state and territories including the removal of mask wearing requirements in many regions.

Isolation rules for positive cases and close contacts remained in place across Australia.

As they became more widely available, Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) overtook Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests as the most common method of testing for COVID-19 infection.

Symptoms and testing

The survey asked about household experiences with COVID-19 symptoms, tests, and positive cases in the past four weeks. These questions were also asked in February 2022.

In February and March 2022, similar proportions of Australians reported that someone in the household had:

  • one or more symptoms of COVID-19 (18% in February and 21% in March)
  • any COVID-19 test (47% in February and 46% in March).

Of those taking a test in March 2022, most (90%) reported someone in their household had taken a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), while around one quarter (26%) reported having a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. One in 25 people (4%) reported difficulties obtaining a Rapid Antigen Test.

Of those in households where someone had a COVID-19 test, 14% reported one or more household members had tested positive in March 2022 (similar to 17% in February 2022).

The proportion of positive COVID-19 cases relates only to the households reporting someone had taken a COVID-19 test in the four weeks prior to the survey. The data is not directly comparable with official measures of positive COVID-19 cases reported from health surveillance systems.

Emotional and mental wellbeing

The survey asked Australians about feelings that had an adverse impact on their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Compared with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020), when lockdowns were in place and non-essential activities were shut, Australians were less likely in March 2022 to report that in the last four weeks they felt:

  • nervous (22% in March 2022 compared with 35% in April 2020)
  • restless or fidgety (26% in March 2022 compared with 42% in April 2020).
  1. Includes responses of ‘all the time’, ‘most of the time’ or ‘some of the time’.
  2. Includes feelings experienced in the four weeks before interview.
  3. Telephone interviews were used to collect information in March 2022, June 2020 and April 2020.
  4. In June 2020 and April 2020, 'so depressed that nothing could cheer you up' was asked.

Of Australians who reported any of these feelings in March 2022, 14% reported discussing their feelings with a doctor or other health professional (similar to 10% reported in April 2020 and 12% in June 2020).

Unpaid activities

The survey asked how many hours people spent in the previous week on selected unpaid activities.

In March 2022, women were more likely than men to have spent five or more hours in the last week on: 

  • unpaid indoor housework (69% of women compared with 44% of men)
  • unpaid cooking and baking (67% compared with 42%)
  • unpaid care of adults (14% compared with 8%).
  1. 'Children' refers to people 15 years and under.
  2. 'Care or supervision of children' includes playing, talking, teaching, learning, reading and other activities with them, such as taking children to school and picking them up.
  3. 'Adults' refers to people 16 years and over.
  4. Indoor housework includes cleaning and laundry.

School or childcare attendance

Less than one-quarter (23%) of Australian households with children aged under 18 years reported their children’s school, preschool or childcare attendance was impacted by COVID-19 in the last four weeks. While lower than the 28% who reported this in February 2022, the decrease is not statistically significant.

Australians with children in the household whose childcare and school attendance was impacted by COVID-19 in the last four weeks, reported:  

  • a child being unable to attend due to testing positive to COVID-19 (*43%)
  • a child being unable to attend due to being a COVID-19 close contact (*42%)
  • school, or childcare being closed due to COVID-19 (7%)
  • other school or childcare restrictions (12%).

Working arrangements

Current job status

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. The results of this survey are not directly comparable to Australia’s official Labour Force measures. For more information refer to the Methodology.

The proportion of Australians with a job working paid hours in March 2022 has remained similar since June 2021 (65% compared with 63%). In March 2022, the proportion of Australians with a job and not working any paid hours was 3% (similar to 2% in February 2022). 

Persons aged 18 years and over, self-reported job status 
 

Feb-21(a)

%

Mar-21(b)

%

Apr-21(a)

%

May-21(a)

%

Jun-21(a)

%

Feb-22(c)

%

Mar 22(b)

%

Has a job68666768686867
Working paid hours64636363636665
Not working paid hours4356623
Does not have a paid job (d)32343331313132
  1. Current job status based on changes between each collection.                                               
  2. Current job status based on changes between each collection for previous panel and reported status for new panel members.
  3. Job status reported mid-February 2022.                                                                                   
  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.

Work from home arrangements

The survey asked Australians with a job, how frequently they worked from home in the last month.  

In March 2022:

  • nearly half (46%) of all Australians with a job worked from home one or more times a week in the last four weeks (similar to 44% reported in the previous month)
  • similar proportions of men and women with jobs worked from home one or more times a week in the last four weeks (48% of men and 44% of women).

Potential impact of COVID-19 on working arrangements

The survey asked employed Australians how their main job would be impacted if they contracted COVID-19. The most common responses included:

  • not being allowed to work until recovered or unable to work for the recommended isolation period (51%)
  • being required to work from home if well enough (35%)
  • could work from home if well enough (32%).

The most common responses were similar for employed Australians when asked the options for their main job if they were a close contact of someone with COVID-19:

  • 42% would not be allowed to work for the required isolation period
  • 32% would be required to work from home
  • 30% could choose to work from home.

Both questions allowed multiple responses and should not be summed to create an aggregate total.

Job situation changes in the last month

In March 2022, one in five (20%) Australians reported that the job situation of someone in their household had changed in one or more ways due to COVID-19 in the last four weeks (a decrease from 26% in February 2022). 

Australians living in households with children were twice as likely to report that the job situation of someone in their household had changed in one or more ways due to COVID-19 than Australians living alone (26% compared with 12%).  

Of Australians with a household member who experienced a change in their job situation in March 2022, common reasons included:

  • absent work colleagues (27%)
  • close contact of someone with COVID-19 (*25%)
  • workplace asked staff to work from home where possible (22%).

What's next?

The ABS will follow up with the panel in April 2022 to undertake the third and final cycle of the monthly Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey for 2022. The topics will include:

  • symptoms of COVID-19 and testing
  • precautions
  • financial stress
  • frequency of activities
  • changes in job status
  • impact of COVID-19 on school or childcare attendance.

Information from the April survey will be released 17 May 2022.

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 - 13

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4940.0.