Looking back over the past 6 months at the Catalyst Sparkline and the issues that are of greatest concern to Australians, it has been encouraging to watch our collective anxieties about Covid slowly decline as vaccination rates have risen and state and federal government’s have formulated and executed plans. Unfortunately as we all know, Omicron reared its ugly head at the end of last year and has created a new wave of anxiety as it has spread across Australia, evident by Covid regaining its #1 spot in January as the issue of most concern to Aussies.
Under the surface however we continue to see growing concern about the cost of living which is now the second most pressing issue. The financial strain of lockdowns and continued restrictions, combined with the end of government COVID-19 subsidies in 2021 have likely been contributing factors.
The financial burden of the past 6 months has affected the older demographics more than the younger ones. 52% of Baby Boomers, and 56% of Gen X cited cost of living as the gravest concern in January. This compared to 40% of Gen Z, and 44% of Millennials showing concern for the same issue.
Cost of living was the only issue that has seen concern grow month on month for the duration of the catalyst program between August 2021 and January 2022.
It followed a similar pattern to the issue of affordability of housing which in January relaxed slightly, in line with a slow-down in the rapid growth of property prices.
It will be interesting to see how the government plans on stimulating the economy in the year ahead and whether the needs of the lower-income groups will be kept forefront in this election year.
Similarly, the recent pledge by the Morrison government to spend $1Bn on saving the Great Barrier Reef is a welcome sign, however opportunities remain to tackle the underlying causes of environmental destruction by taking greater steps to address climate change which is a key concern for Australians, consistently sitting as the 2nd or 3rd most pressing issue.