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Relationship Indicators 2022

Relationship Indicators 2022

Relationships Australia Victoria, as part of the Relationships Australia National Federation, is pleased to share the results of our nationally representative survey into the state of relationships in Australia. These findings will inform our efforts to support all Australians to achieve positive and respectful relationships.

Background

Relationships Australia previously conducted the Relationships Indicators Survey from 1998-2011. In response to the enormous effects of the pandemic and other challenges in recent years, we recognised a shift in relationships and were interested in gaining a better understanding of these changes at a national level.

In response, Relationships Australia decided to reinvigorate the project with a renewed focus on research design and method.

 

The new survey

Relationships Australia has sought to develop a national survey which explored the ‘most important, meaningful’ relationship people have in their lives. Traditionally, many may assume that a person’s partner would take on this role. Although for many of our participants this was the case, we also felt it was important to capture the incredible connection people have outside of partnered relationships and explore the difficulties and challenges these relationships face.

The survey also explores people’s experiences with partnered relationship breakdown and bereavement, as well as other emerging relationship issues. Finally, we focused on people’s social identities, by exploring the roles that group relationships play in our lives.

To design the survey, we used a panel of experts from across our Federation and beyond. This resulted in a survey with a variety of rigorous measures, validated tools and some questions to test our own assumptions as service providers. Responses were collected by Life in Australia™ – Australia’s most methodologically rigorous panel.

Our approach produced findings which are broadly applicable to the Australian population. Despite this, we recognise that distilling relationships, which are so personal and infinitely subjective, into a short, summative report is a difficult task. As such, we plan to use this research as a launching point for more in-depth work.

For now, we hope the findings of this research can start a larger conversation about the integral role relationships play across the lifespan, and the kinds of supports that all Australians need to achieve respectful, enduring relationships.

Visit the Relationship Indicators website
View the technical report
Read our recommendations
7% are experiencing controlling behaviour in their most important relationship
22.1% said mental health placed pressure on their most important relationship

Key findings

  • Australians have a variety of important, meaningful connections. Australians are very satisfied with these relationships.

  • Satisfying relationships lead to greater subjective wellbeing and can predict satisfaction with life more generally.

  • External pressures are placing a significant strain on relationships, affecting some groups more than others.
    • The effects of mental ill-health were pervasive across relationships, being a major pressure in itself for 22.1% of people, and a cause and consequence of other pressures.

  • Loneliness is increasing in Australia. One in five Australians say they often feel lonely and levels of social loneliness are high across the whole population.

  • 1.7 million Australians feel unsafe disagreeing with their most important person, with older Australians least likely to say they feel safety in their relationships.

  • Experiences with grief and loss in a partner relationship have significant ongoing effects on future relationships.

  • Men are struggling to connect emotionally and socially and create strong relationships, with one in five men feeling emotionally lonely and one in three feeling socially lonely.

  • Having a strong and reliable relationship improves subjective wellbeing, reduces loneliness, and enhances mental health.
    • Satisfying relationships are good for wellbeing. The more satisfactory someone's important relationship was, the better their subjective wellbeing.
    • People who could rely on one strong relationship for a variety of social supports had better life satisfaction.
    • People who could rely on one strong relationship had better mental health over the past six months.
    • People who could rely on one strong relationship were 1.4 times less lonely than those who relied on many different relationships.

  • Australians have very low rates of help-seeking to address relationship issues, with 46.2% preferring to manage these challenges on their own.
Preview of the Relationship Indicators key findings fact sheet
Download the key findings fact sheet [PDF, 121KB]

These findings highlight the importance of relationship services and other mechanisms which empower people to overcome challenges in their relationships.

There is no right way to 'do' relationships. Some relationships come easily, while others must be constantly renegotiated and explored. Relationships change throughout the lifetime, especially as other social realities shift.

Looking forwards

This report has demonstrated the integral role relationships play on our health, wellbeing and happiness. It has also explored how pressures challenge relationships, affective some sub-populations more than others. It has highlighted the need for supports which help all Australians nurture their relationships, to provide everyone with the opportunity to create respectful, enduring and fulfilling connections throughout the lifetime.

Relationships Australia Victoria believes that that people, in all their diversity, have the right to live their lives safely and with dignity, with their families and within their communities, and to enjoy positive, respectful, safe and fulfilling relationships. The findings from this research will be used to support Relationships Australia service provision and advocacy efforts to help achieve this goal.


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