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Internationally, there is growing recognition that measuring societal progress should involve measuring wellbeing: identifying whether people are able to lead meaningful, happy and fulfilled lives is just as, if not more, important than understanding economic growth. Despite this recognition, there remains limited data tracking wellbeing, particularly in rural and regional areas with smaller populations.
The Regional Wellbeing Survey was launched in 2013 to examine the wellbeing of people living in rural and regional areas of Australia. The survey is conducted annually, and measures the subjective wellbeing of people and communities living outside Australia’s major cities. It also examines resilience of rural and regional residents and the liveability of their communities, and looks at how rural and regional Australians are experiencing a wide range of changes occurring in their communities.
This report examines the results of the 2015 Regional Wellbeing Survey, focusing on wellbeing, liveability, and resilience. Further reports will be released from the 2015 survey, including reports focusing on experiences of drought, the wellbeing of farmers, natural resource management, and water reform. The Regional Wellbeing Survey team is also partnering with other groups conducting large scale surveys, to ensure we can broaden the information available on wellbeing of different people and communities.
The topics included in the Regional Wellbeing Survey each year are selected based on consultation with a wide range of rural and regional organisations. Some survey topics are asked every year, while others are included only occasionally. Participants can complete the survey online or on paper. Survey participants are recruited principally using flyers and paper surveys distributed to letter boxes, and emails to prior survey participants; in addition, many rural and regional organisations also promote the survey, and a survey prize draw is offered. In 2015, a total of 13,303 people took part in the 2015 Regional Wellbeing Survey, with the number of respondents growing by just over 1,000 compared to the 2014 survey (completed by 12,125 people), and by 4,000 compared to the 2013 survey (completed by 9,135 respondents). Data presented in this report have, unless otherwise specified, been weighted to be representative of the rural and regional Australian population: this weighting addresses both deliberate over-sampling of farmers and people in some regions, as well as unintentional over-sampling of women and older people. Confidence intervals are presented throughout the report to provide a guide to statistically significant differences between different groups of people, and people living in different regions. Like any survey, the data presented in this report has limitations and caveats. Key amongst these are that some groups may be underrepresented even after weighting of data, and missing data have not been imputed.