What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think about your wellbeing? If you automatically think of sipping a green smoothie while sitting on a yoga mat, you’re not alone. From bloggers to fitness experts, a lot of people use the term “wellbeing” in relation to health and fitness, trends and regimes. And while these things can certainly help to support your wellbeing, we’re here to talk about how Real Wellbeing relies on more factors than just your health.
For more than 20 years, Australian Unity, in partnership with Deakin University, has been studying the wellbeing and life satisfaction of Australians through the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. The study focuses on what we call the “seven domains of wellbeing” – factors that combine and work together over time to build an individual picture of life satisfaction. More than a fleeting moment of happiness, Real Wellbeing is a long-lasting, holistic view of our lives.
To celebrate 20 years of the Wellbeing Index, we proudly present a commemorative report that highlights how, individually and collectively, we judge our wellbeing and satisfaction within the core components of our lives.Download the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Report
Want to find out your wellbeing score? The Australian Unity Personal Wellbeing Index tool offers a simple test for those wanting to measure their wellbeing. Using the seven domains of wellbeing: health, relationships, standard of living, community connectedness, personal safety, achieving in life and future security, the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index calculates an individual’s wellbeing score and indicates whether it’s in the normal range for Australians.
If the score is outside the normal range, the tool offers general advice about which areas of wellbeing may be an issue for an individual.Take the Wellbeing Index survey
The adjustment to life after work might not always be a completely smooth one, presenting some unique challenges for those not properly prepared Contrary to popular belief, wellbeing is different from ‘happiness’. Happiness can come and go in a moment, whereas wellbeing is a more stable state of being well, feeling satisfied and contented.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index is based on average levels of satisfaction with various aspects of personal and national life. Satisfaction is expressed as a percentage score, where 0 percent is completely dissatisfied and 100 percent is completely satisfied. So a survey score of 76.5 percent on personal wellbeing means Australians, on average, feel 76.5 percent satisfied with their life.
Elements of the Personal Wellbeing Index are satisfaction with:
Elements of the National Wellbeing Index are satisfaction with:
As well as looking at personal and national wellbeing, our 'Wellbeing of Australians' reports are released annually. These surveys explore issues of social importance as they relate to wellbeing. For example, survey 13 investigated caring at home, and the impact that providing informal care to a family member has on the wellbeing of carers. Other survey topics have included the effects of terrorism, personal financial debt, relationships and household structure, health and body weight and job security.
The full archive of ‘Wellbeing of Australians’ reports are available to view here.
Measures of how 'well' we are doing as a nation have conventionally been based on economic considerations such as Gross Domestic Product, employment rates and housing prices. However, in an era when Australians are richer than ever, more than one million adults and 100,000 young people are experiencing depression every year. The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index investigates additional factors impacting on our lives, filling the void not covered by economic considerations and producing a more complete view of Australians’ wellbeing.
It also informs public debate about the sort of society we want to live in. It provides community organisations, government and business decision-makers with a credible measure of wellbeing for purposes ranging from strategic planning and policy making to providing every-day Australians with information they can use to improve their personal wellbeing. It engenders increasing awareness of important social issues impacting on the wellbeing of Australians.
The index is based on a working hypothesis that proposes wellbeing below a ‘normative range’ indicates a higher propensity to developing clinical depression. When people’s demands exceed their resources, this causes wellbeing to fall below the normative range. The index is therefore extremely useful at identifying groups of people in society whose demands are exceeding their resources and who require extra assistance if they are to avoid depression.
Why did Australian Unity develop the index?
Australian Unity is committed to making genuine contributions to society. The index is a demonstration of this commitment, by investigating factors that impact on the lives of every-day Australians.
Data from the index also provides insight into how we can help improve customers’ wellbeing and is extremely useful for informing public debate and policy makers about issues of national importance.
Australian Unity developed the index in partnership with Deakin University and in close conjunction with leading researchers around the country.
Professor Bob Cummins from Deakin University’s Australian Centre for Quality of Life is the author of the index and has been involved in the project since its conception in 2001. Deakin University is responsible for all data analysis and the collation of each report. The database now contains more than 28,000 records.
In 2004 the International Society for Quality of Life Studies awarded Professor Cummins and colleagues “Best Paper” in their society’s journal, Social Indicators Research', for work based on findings from the index. The index also won the Victorian Public Health Award for excellence in public health capacity-building in the same year.
Professor Cummins also heads the International Wellbeing Group, which involves more than 200 researchers from 45 countries. This gives the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index a role in understanding personal wellbeing in an international context, through the lens of different cultures.