Australia, we hope you're feeling satisfied with yourself.
And, by and large, it appears that you are, especially if you love where you live.
The inaugural ACM Heartbeat of Australia study released today captures the general sentiment of Australians in 2022.
The new national research study paints a fascinating picture of the hopes and concerns of the nation, and offers insights on how we stay connected and how important a sense of community is in our lives.
Young and old, in cities and the regions, thousands of Aussies have told us how they're feeling, what they're planning and why community matters. And it turns out that people with a positive view of their community are much more likely to be feeling satisfied with their life as a whole.
Produced in partnership with the University of Canberra, Heartbeat of Australia is based on the responses of 6367 Australians from regional areas and the major metropolitan cities in a 15-minute online questionnaire between March and May.
The key findings include:
ACM research director Alex Mihalovich says the survey results identify clear distinctions in how younger and older Australians are feeling now and about the year ahead.
Younger Australians (under 45) are feeling more anxious than older Australians (55 per cent versus 39 per cent), while older Australians are more happy (76 per cent vs 66 per cent for younger Australians), hopeful (72 per cent vs 66 per cent), content (70 per cent vs 59 per cent) and optimistic (67 per cent vs 63 per cent).
Differences between how regional and metro Aussies are feeling are equally significant. Regional people reported feeling less anxious (44 per cent vs 54 per cent for metro) and more happy (74 per cent vs 56 per cent), hopeful (77 per cent vs 66 per cent), content (67 per cent vs 58 per cent) and optimistic (66 per cent vs 62 per cent).
"Affordable housing and good quality phone and internet connections are the big issues among regional communities ... compared to cities," Mr Mihalovich said.
Heartbeat of Australia also found that regional Australians had greater trust in newspapers (64 per cent) than residents of the five major capital cities (50 per cent). "Localised content is what builds that trust so it's not surprising to see audiences beyond metropolitan areas with access to such content having a stronger relationship with their news brands," Mr Mihalovich said.
Among the 83 per cent of respondents satisfied with their life as a whole, older Australians, those living in the regions, ACM readers and retirees showed higher levels of satisfaction. Concerns about isolation and loneliness show the strongest links with lower life satisfaction.
Australians are concerned about the cost of living (54 per cent), physical health (31 per cent) and mental health (30 per cent).
Mental health and the ability to access finances are particularly important to a person's life satisfaction and younger people are especially concerned and dissatisfied with their financial situation.
People with poor community services are less likely to feel satisfied with their life. City dwellers generally had higher satisfaction with local services. Employment opportunities and the local economy appear to have the strongest impact, followed by the quality of local schools and street safety.
Community well-being has the strongest relationship with a person's life satisfaction. Connection to your community ranks higher than personal circumstances in determining satisfaction with their life.
Further, people who believe their community is a great place to live and who think it has a bright future are much more satisfied with their lives than those who don't. Older Australians and those in the regions are much more likely to feel positive about their community.
People who consume local news because it helps them feel connected to their community are more likely to feel satisfied with their life. Wanting to understand things that may affect me (88 per cent) and knowing what is going on in my local area (84 per cent) are the top reasons people access local news. Those who do not follow local news have much lower life satisfaction compared to news consumers. The most important element of local news is trustworthy news (62 per cent).
Travel is back on the agenda for many Australians, with 73 per cent of respondents planning to travel domestically and 29 per cent planning an overseas trip. Regional people were more likely to be thinking about travelling around Australia, while city folk were more likely to be thinking about travelling internationally.