Contributed by Jim Hayes
The latest report by the Scanlon Foundation warns that Australia is close to a tipping point in terms of social cohesion. This is a fancy way to say that Australians are getting angrier about the situation they find themselves in.
The survey involves nearly 6,000 undergoing interviews.
The Scanlon Foundation in Australia is an offshoot of the Catholic United Sates based parent, which, according to its missions, works to build social cohesion. It’s research, therefore, specialises in this field.
No doubt the Covid experience, with its lockdowns, health impacts and deaths, and economic hardship has had an effect. This is compounded by an economy going backwards for most. There is a sense of worse to come. This is compounded by an atmosphere of growing global tension and a good chance that Australia may soon be dragged into war. There is the ticking timebomb of disastrous climate change.
Photo by William West/AFP/Getty: Australians have little faith that government will deliver for them
Inflation has roared back to increase the cost of living, already made bad by the falling wages share in national income.
This year’s Scanlon survey shows that pride in what our nation is doing, the sense that social justice is being applied, are declining. People feel excluded and their sense of security is eroding.
James O’Donnell, a demographer from the Australian National University led the research this year said,
“People who are saying they are financially struggling have much lower levels of belonging and a much lower sense of social justice and inclusion in Australia. There are real social and economic inequalities that drag down social cohesion in Australia and that becomes a threat to an overall sense of harmony and cooperation between people.”
Distrust in government is at 59 percent. Although slightly better than before the fall of the Morrison government, the level of trust remains very high.
The findings in this report are no surprise. They add to the conversations we witness at home, work, and in the streets, and are in line with other research findings.
No doubt that many of the pundits will continue seeing the negative view on how Australia is performing as bad. They will continue to consider ongoing distrust of government as loss of faith in democracy. Both responses turn the truth on its head. Australia wants our nation to be a better and fairer place.
Wanting government to deliver on promises, no not discriminate, to act for everyone and not just a few, to work towards everyone getting a just share of the economic pie, is a call for much more democracy than is presently on offer. The longer it takes to rectify this, the closer Australia will come to the tipping point.