Toughing out Covid: how Australia’s social fabric held together during a once-in-a-century crisis

Interesting take. Generally, the Scanlon Foundations public opinion research is similar to that carried out in Canada by Environics, and thus tends to highlight some of the similarities that are lost in political discourse and debate:

Politics, and media coverage of politics, is powered by conflict and spectacle. But the social scientist Andrew Markus wants to focus on something quieter: the resilience and optimism of Australians during a crisis; a country under duress that chose not to fracture.

Markus is the principal researcher on the Scanlon Foundation’s annual Social Cohesion report – a project that has mapped a migrant nation since 2007. The report published on Thursday is a snapshot of a country managing a once-in-a-century crisis.

The research (sample size 3,090 respondents) is normally conducted in July. Given Australia was at that time about to tip into a second wave of coronavirus infections in Victoria, and had slipped into the first recession for 30 years, the Monash University emeritus professor was puzzled when many of the snapshots of community sentiment were positive.

That seemed counterintuitive.

To be certain of the findings, a second survey of 2,793 respondents was conducted in November. “In November, we again got very positive data,” he says. By positive data, this is what Markus means. Stepping through his findings, a supermajority was on board with Scott Morrison’s response to the crisis, and the level of trust in government in Australia hit the highest point in the history of the survey.

People had confidence in the public health response. More than 90% of respondents in the five mainland states said lockdowns to suppress transmission were definitely or probably required. While the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, endured a period of being flogged by the Murdoch media for locking down the state, 78% of respondents backed Andrews, and when they were asked whether the lockdown was required, 87% said yes.

While America and Britain battled resurgent nativism, the inward turn triggered by the global financial crisis of a decade ago, Australians, walled in behind a preemptive international border closure, and marooned periodically behind hard state borders, continued to look to the world.

Source: Toughing out Covid: how Australia’s social fabric held together during a once-in-a-century crisis

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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