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New survey: More grateful and less lonely, despite COVID-19

7 December 2020

A new Red Cross survey* released today reveals that four in five (78%) Australians feel a greater degree of social connection this festive season than last, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19. 

The survey also finds more people are feeling more grateful and making extra efforts to connect. However, it also shows almost one in four people (22%) are worried they will feel lonely during the festive season. 
 
Penny Harrison, Red Cross Director of Volunteering, says the results overall show remarkable levels of resilience. 

“It’s clear that Australians have turned to their communities, keeping connections going and making new ones. Many people are clearly showing strong signs of resilience. 

“More Australians have plans for Christmas Day this year than last year. However, the elderly and unemployed are still falling behind.

“The pandemic has absolutely tested us. And it’s shown that acts of kindness matter, it’s the social glue that keeps us together,” she said.

Previous research has found that loneliness is twice as likely to cause an early death as obesity, and that isolation has the same impact on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.** An estimated 1.2 million Australians still experience deep social exclusion. ***

As the country faces another disaster season, economic challenges and the ongoing effort to keep COVID-19 under control, Red Cross launches its Power of Kindness campaign calling on Australians to make kind gestures, or make a donation at redcross.org.au or on the phone at 1800 RED CROSS.

Key findings

  • Four in five (78%) say they feel more strongly connected this festive season, a jump of close to 15%. Just under half (45%) are making extra efforts to connect. 
  • Almost one in four people (22%) are worried they will feel lonely during the festive season. Half of people over 65 or unemployed have not yet made any plans for Christmas Day, and feel low levels of connection during this period. 
  • Three in five (59%) say they feel more grateful, even in the face of COVID 19, emergencies and an economic downturn. 
  • An overwhelming majority (70%) of us say we need to care more for our most vulnerable: the elderly and socially excluded, those hit by disasters and the homeless for example.
  • Around 3 in 5 (61%) are more aware of the importance of being kind, due to the pandemic. Just under half (42%) feel COVID has made individuals act more kindly, but an equal amount (46%) also acknowledge Australians have acted out of fear. 
  • This festive season, around a quarter (26%) of people are planning to connect with those most isolated and around one third (31%) are generously planning to donate to a charity.


*Note to editor: Australian Red Cross with Qualtrics conducted a survey with a representative sample of over 1,000 people from across Australia above 18 years in October 2020. 

**Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy B. Smith, Mark Baker, Tyler Harris, David Stephenson, 2015, “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review”, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2) p227-237

 *** https://www.bsl.org.au/research/our-research-and-policy-work/social-exclusion-monitor/

For media queries, contact Angela Lemme alemme@redcross.org.au or Mobile 0437 331 310.