Australia Day and Being Australian in 2016

Tue, Jan 26 2016

26 January is fast approaching and people across the country have been debating on the name and the meaning on the day for years. YouGov, as a global polling and research firm, has run a survey recently to investigate the public perception of 26th January, and how Australians like their new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

YouGov is a valued partner of PRIA and we are delighted to give you an advanced preview of the survey results in celebration of the day that is today, Australia Day.

How do Aussies really feel about 26 January?

Many Australians have complex feelings about 26 January. For years now, the country has seen some impassioned debate about this holiday and what it means for – and says about – modern-day Australia. Polling company YouGov ran an online survey from 15 to 19 January 2016 and surveyed a representative sample of Australians to investigate.

Almost 90% of Australians do refer to 26 January as “Australia Day”

The majority of Australian (86%) refer 26 January as “Australia Day”. A small minority (6%) prefer to use a different name (“Anniversary Day”, “Foundation Day”, or “ANA Day”), and the remainder (about 8%) have no opinion on what the day is known as.

About four in five Australians believe Australia Day is worth celebrating

78% Australian believe 26 January is worth celebrating. Among this group, the top three reasons they give to celebrate Australia Day are:

  1. It's a day to take pride in Australia's culture, achievements, values and identity (74%),
  2. It’s a day for ceremonies and traditions such as welcoming new citizens, and remembering those who have been of service to Australia (60%), and
  3. It's a day to celebrate the many different communities and cultures who make up Australia (56%).

However, one in eight Australians think 26 January is not worth celebrating. Among this group, the reasons given not to celebrate are:

  1.        It's a day that represents loss and injustice towards Indigenous Australians (65%),
  2.        It's just an excuse for people to party and drink (35%), and
  3.        It's lacking in real meaning (25%).

Defining the essence of what it means to be Australian: A Fair Go and Mateship

More than 3 in every 5 Australians (62%) believe that “a fair go” is what defines the essence of the Australian way of life. Over half (55%) say that “mateship” is what defines it.

Other aspects that defined ‘being Australian’ included:

  •          “No worries / She’ll be right attitude” (47%)
  •          “The lucky country” (40%)
  •          “Tall poppy syndrome” (20%)
  •          “Cultural cringe” (17%)

As the school year starts again, how does Prime Minister Turnbull’s Report Card look?

Malcolm Turnbull has been Prime Minister for almost four months. YouGov asked Australians to score his performance in various key areas of government. Mr Turnbull scored highest in “International Reputation and Relations” but lowest in “Social Welfare”.

Respondents were asked to rate Turnbull’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 means very poor and 10 means excellent. In general, his scores hover around (or slightly above) the mid-point of the scale:

  •          International reputation and relations                    scored 5.88, with 27% rating him 8-10
  •          Security                                                                        scored 5.79, with 22% rating him 8-10
  •          Small and Medium Business                                   scored 5.51, with 18% rating him 8-10
  •          Economy performance                                              scored 5.32, with 14% rating him 8-10
  •          Health                                                                           scored 5.16, with 14% rating him 8-10
  •          Employment                                                                scored 5.14, with 14% rating him 8-10
  •          Environment                                                                scored 5.13, with 14% rating him 8-10
  •          Education aspect                                                        scored 5.08, with 13% rating him 8-10
  •          Social Welfare                                                             scored 4.91, with 12% rating him 8-10

Under New Management: half of Aussies think Malcolm Turnbull is performing better as Prime Minister than Tony Abbott

Approximately half of respondents (51%) think Mr Turnbull is doing better than his predecessor, Tony Abbott. Another 27% think he’s just the same as his predecessor. Only 8% think he’s doing worse than Mr Abbott, although some 14% of respondents either don’t know or are not sure.

Generally speaking, more than 1 in 3 (36%) of Australian are feeling optimistic about the future of Australia under Malcolm Turnbull’s governance. Exactly 1 in 3 (33%) feel it will be more or less the same regardless of who the Prime Minister is. Less than 20% feel pessimistic about the future under Mr Turnbull.

Friends in the playground? Three in five Australians believe Australia should foster closer ties with both USA and China

57% of Australians think that it would be better for Australia to foster closer ties with both USA and China. 13% think closer ties with China (only) are needed and 7% think closer ties with USA are the preferred way forward. 23% believe Australia should not foster closer ties with either the USA or China.

Demographic Details of the Study

Sample (Australia, n=538)

Gender: Male (49%) vs. Female (51%)

Age group: 18-24 (13%), 25-34 (17%), 35-44 (17%), 45-54 (17%), and 55+ (35%).

Average monthly household income (MHI): AUD 6531.66

Region: New South Wales (32%), Victoria (25%), Queensland (20%), South Australia (7%), Western Australia (11%), Tasmania (2%), Northern Territory (1%), and Australian Capital Territory (2%)

Author: YouGov

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