Older Australians and Victorians most positive about 2022

As we near the end of 2021, it would be safe to assume that most Australians would like to pull the plug on the year that has been.

It makes sense. The past year has been dominated by a rampaging virus causing lockdowns, unemployment, major health issues and general malaise. We’ve had freak weather, floods, fire and earthquake, and the jumping castle tragedy in Tasmania last week would make anyone want to quickly put 2021 behind them.

But will 2022 be much better?

A Roy Morgan web survey of 1184 Australians aged 18 and over in late November shows only 37 per cent of Australians believe so.

However, just 23 per cent actually think 2022 will be ‘worse’ than 2021, with 31 per cent saying it will be ‘the same’ and 9 per cent unsure.

“Australians are set to enter 2022 in a mixed state of mind, with new outbreaks of COVID-19 spreading rapidly in New South Wales and Victoria over the last week as restrictions have been eased in both states in the run-up to Christmas,” says Roy Morgan chief Michele Levine.

“The numbers are less encouraging than a year ago, as Australia enjoyed a relatively COVID-free summer in 2020/21 and with new vaccines set to arrive from February 2021 it appeared the COVID-19 pandemic might soon be over. That hope proved not to be the case, with extended lockdowns this year in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.”

Read: Lockdown lows hit all-time high

While the numbers may seem a little pessimistic, the Aussies possibly most affected by the pandemic remain the most positive.

Source: Roy Morgan telephone, SMS and web surveys in Australia 1980-2020 with an average of 1000 Australians aged 18+ interviewed each year. Question: “As far as you are concerned, do you think that 2022 will be better, worse, or the same as 2021?”

Older Australians expect 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021
Older Australians are clearly the most positive about 2022, with those aged 65 and over the only age group in which a majority (52 per cent) saying 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021. Only 17 per cent of older Aussies surveyed expect 2022 to be ‘worse’.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the research is the breakdown by age. The most positive Australians are the oldest with a majority of 52 per cent of people aged 65+ saying they expect 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021,” says Ms Levine.

“Older Australians are the most heavily vaccinated cohort and perhaps this helps underlie their confidence about the year ahead, however the new outbreaks of COVID-19 in NSW, Victoria and elsewhere suggest they may also have the most to worry about.

“To deal with these new outbreaks Australians are being advised to book in a ‘booster shot’ five months after receiving their second dose. Already over one million Australians have now received their first ‘booster shot’, which will significantly restore their immunity levels.”

Read: COVID booster ‘dramatically’ lifts defences, but GPs plead for help

Just over four in 10 (42 per cent) Australians aged 18 to 24 say 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021 compared to 29 per cent who say it will be ‘worse’.

Around a third of Australians aged 25 to 34 (29 per cent), 35 to 49 (33 per cent) or 50 to 64 (31 per cent) say 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021, while around a quarter say it will be worse: 25 to 34 (24 per cent), 35 to 49 (26 per cent) and 50 to 64 (23 per cent).

Men are more positive than women, with 40 per cent of men expecting 2022 to be ‘better’ than 2021 compared to 34 per cent of women. Slightly more women (25 per cent) say 2022 will be ‘worse’ than 2021 than men (22 per cent).

Victorians are the most positive about 2022 – even after four lockdowns in 2021
When analysing the states feeling most positive about 2022, those living in Victoria (46 per cent) and New South Wales (44 per cent) are the most positive about the new year.

Many say these states, both of which experienced the longest lockdowns during 2021 (108 days in Melbourne and 107 days in Sydney), would have cause to be the most pessimistic.

However, it seems more likely to be a case of ‘things can only get better’, says Ms Levine.

The community attitudes in the two most lockdown-affected are in stark contrast to other states, where only 29 per cent of Queensland residents, 24 per cent of people in Western Australia, 22 per cent of people in South Australia and 20 per cent of people in Tasmania who say 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021.

In three states, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, more people say 2022 will be ‘worse’ than 2021.

In only one other state, Western Australia, are people more positive about 2022 than negative. Just under a quarter of people in Western Australia (24 per cent) expect 2022 will be ‘better’ than 2021 compared to 23 per cent that say 2022 will be ‘worse’. Western Australia is now the only state that continues to have closed domestic borders to most of the rest of Australia.

The states that have largely avoided COVID-19 are now experiencing rising cases after reopening their borders in recent weeks, leading to more people now saying 2022 will be ‘worse’ than ‘better’.

“In the four smaller states, there are more people inclined to say next year will be ‘worse’ than this year – especially in South Australia and Tasmania, which have been largely COVID-free throughout the pandemic,” says Ms Levine.

Over a third of people in Tasmania (35 per cent) say 2022 will be ‘worse’ than 2021, followed by around a third of people in South Australia (32 per cent) and Queensland (30 per cent).

Respondents in Australia’s capital cities (38 per cent) are slightly more positive about 2022 being ‘better’ than 2021 compared to those in country regions (35 per cent).

Analysis by States & Regions – Next Year ‘Better’ or ‘Worse’

Read: Return to COVID-normal not so simple for older Aussies

Ms Levine says the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant in recent weeks has put paid to hopes that 2022 would be the year Australians returned to a pre-pandemic sense of ‘normality’.

“There are considerable uncertainties about the economic outlook for next year with inflation expectations now at a seven-year high of 4.9 per cent in November,” she says.

“The threat of inflation looms over 2022 as supply chain issues, as well as strong demand worldwide as we – hopefully – emerge from the pandemic, put upward pressure on prices.

“In Australia there is also the added uncertainty of a federal election, with campaigning set to dominate the first half of next year and the country’s first ‘hung parliament’ for a decade remains a clear possibility.”

Ms Levine says the only ‘certainty’ we have had during the pandemic has been dealing with uncertainty.

“Unfortunately for those who believed that achieving a high vaccination rate of over 90 per cent of the population would lead to a return to normality as we knew it pre-pandemic, the last few weeks with the emergence of the Omicron variant shows there will still be a large degree of uncertainty going forward into 2022,” she says.

Are you optimistic about 2022? What are you looking forward to most? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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