Momentous world and local events shape our view of the world and our view of Australian life. The perception that change is occurring at an ever-increasing rate may be due to the tumultuous times we live in and fuelled by the information age and the ubiquity of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. In Australia, the fact the nation has seen five changes of Prime Minister between 2007 and 2015 may also contribute to the perception we live in a rapidly changing world.
Whatever the perception is regarding the pace of change, we are undoubtedly living through turbulent times both domestically and internationally in terms of our environment, society and economy. While it may seem at times that we are being continuously buffeted by current events, it is also the case that, via the internet, the past is more accessible than ever before. One illustration of this is the continuing boom in family history and genealogy.
In the lead up to Australia Day 2018 researchers at the Social Research Centre, in collaboration with colleagues from the Australian National University, thought it opportune to reflect on our shared history and the nation-shaping events that have occurred in our lifetime, and to consider which particular aspects of our past are the most significant in terms of how we understand our identity and our place in the world. To this end, we asked 2,074 members of the Social Research Centre’s Life in Australia™ panel to nominate up to 10 historic events in their lifetime that, in their view, have had the greatest impact on the country. The youngest survey participant is aged 18 years and the oldest 93 years.
The event that topped the list as the most frequently mentioned (at 30%) was same-sex marriage – no surprise considering the timing of the survey late in 2017. Same-sex marriage just shaded the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon on September 11 2001