People who live in and near Canberra are more contented than people in other parts of the country, according to researchers at the University of Canberra.
Its "Living well in the ACT region" research found that fewer Canberrans (around one in five) reported a "low level of wellbeing" than people elsewhere where one in four were dissatisfied.
But the analysis done by the university's Health Research Institute also found that a significant number of people in the ACT didn't share the optimistic outlook.
"It wasn't all good news for territory residents, with some groups experiencing a decline in wellbeing, including those living on their own, or in units and apartments," the researchers said.
They were able to compare attitudes over time.
The results indicate that feelings of wellbeing took a big bump in the first COVID lockdown at the start of the pandemic in 2020 but not such a big fall in the second lockdown last year.
"While personal wellbeing fell during the first lockdown, it didn't decline as significantly for most Canberrans during the second," Professor Jacki Schirmer who led the research said.
"The survey results suggest that while 47.1 per cent of Canberrans told us they found the second lockdown harder to cope with than the first, many actually managed to maintain their wellbeing despite the challenges of lockdown."
Some Canberrans found it much harder to cope with lockdowns than others.
"People who are carers had a particularly large drop in what was already a lower than average level of wellbeing among this group, along with those living with a mental health disability," Professor Schirmer said.
"This highlights a need to invest in supporting those groups whose wellbeing has been most affected over the last two years," she added.
And despite the higher level of wellbeing in Canberra than in other parts of the country, it has declined in recent years. In the previous survey in 2020, virtually all respondents (95 per cent) praised the Canberra region's "livability".
But by the latest survey, that proportion had dropped to 90 per cent. "The decline was greatest among younger Canberrans, renters, those living in units and apartments, and those who have lived in Canberra less than five years.
"The findings suggest that among these groups, the effects of COVID-19 on being able to socialise, study and work face to face, as well as participating in community events, has had a significant impact," Professor Schirmer said.
The survey was done as part of the ACT government's "Wellbeing Framework" initiative where thousands of Canberrans are asked a range of questions, including about health and how safe or "connected" they feel.
When the project was launched, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that economic conditions only provided a partial measure of the quality of life.
"More and more, governments around the world are recognising that economic growth alone does not account for a community's success or progress over time," he said.
"To gain a real sense of our wellbeing, we must broaden our gaze to look at the range of factors."
As the government put it: "From Gungahlin to Lanyon, from food pantries to Floriade, to evening gatherings over pizza with young people and people of multicultural background, morning teas with seniors, and through the YourSay Community Panel, we heard the stories and experiences of people from across the ACT."
Professor Schirmer said the ACT was a leader in this kind of research.
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"Other state governments in Australia, and more recently, the federal government, are moving towards making wellbeing central to their decision making. This type of data can help governments, and other organisations like community groups, identify where they can best invest in and support those who are struggling the most."
She invited Canberrans and those in surrounding regions, including Queanbeyan, Yass and Murrumbateman, to take part in the next phase of the research by reporting how they felt about their situation in 2022.
"We may not be in lockdown, but 2022 is certainly bringing its share of challenges. We invite all people living in the Canberra region to take part in the latest round of the Living well survey", she said.
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