Australia’s social cohesion has withstood the COVID-19 pandemic, with attitudes largely positive and trust in government significantly higher, according to the Scanlon Foundation Research Institute’s 2020 Mapping Social Cohesion Report, released today.

Using a survey of more than 140 questions to gauge a nuanced understanding of shifts in public opinion on social cohesion and population issues, the Mapping Social Cohesion research series is largest and longest running of its kind in Australia.

For the first time in 2020, two surveys were conducted to inform the report – one in July and one in November, in order to capture the dynamic situation of the COVID-19 situation.

While results show COVID-19 was seen as the ‘most important issue facing the country’ in both July and November, a majority of Australians remained optimistic about the future (70% in July, and 75% in November), and trust in government was the highest ever recorded in the surveys (54%).

Close to one in four (28%) indicated their employment was impacted, through job loss or working reduced hours. Nevertheless, 73% were satisfied or very satisfied with their financial situation, up from 64% in 2019.

The idea that ‘multiculturalism has been good for Australia’ received continued strong support (84% agreement in 2020, compared to 80% in 2019). Agreement with the proposition that ‘accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger’ also remained steadily high (71%).

The survey did, however, provide evidence of relatively high negative opinion towards particular ethnic backgrounds and faith groups, and relatively high levels of concern indicated by Asian Australians in relation to discrimination and racism.

To explore these findings in further detail, visit the 2020 Mapping Social Cohesion Report results microsite at https://scanloninstitute.org.au/report2020