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Future fears post pandemic pain puts spotlight on nation’s growing divide

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90 per cent of Australians believe they’ve seen an increase in economic disparity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

89 per cent of Australians believe there is an evident, growing social divide, including increased privileges between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

93 per cent of Australians believe that where a person lives affects their ability to live a happy life.

With the health impact of COVID-19 dissipating, the majority of Australians are now more concerned with the growing social crisis that the pandemic has either caused or exposed, rather than COVID.

The research team at Mainstreet Insights has investigated how Australians feel about their purpose and place in society, with the majority revealing that COVID has changed how they see themselves in the nation.

Most significantly, the notion we are “one and free” is seemingly dead, with 90 per cent of Australians now feeling the pandemic has exposed the true extent of financial disparity between Australians.

Mainstreet Co-Founder, Dr Lindsay McMillian OAM, says the booming property market and historic lows in home ownership amongst young people, is causing particular anxiety in our cities.

“In the lead up to, and exacerbated by, the pandemic, the property market got away from a generation of young people.

“Double-digit percentage house price rises coupled with rising rents, stagnant wage growth and insecure work are acting to push people out of home ownership and out of inner ring suburbs.

“While the flight from the city is a boon for the regions and the outer suburbs, it is pushing people away from work centres and into long commutes”.

Some 93 per cent of people believe where they live will impact their happiness, with Mainstreet Co- Founder Mark McCrindle concluding we’ve unknowingly created a postcode class system.

“Our suburbs have long been a vibrant mix of social class. The size of the house or the brand of car in the driveway might vary, but be they tradies or temps or professionals or CEOs – all had a place in the neighbourhood.” McCrindle said.

“That’s much less the case today, with emergency service workers, teachers and retail staff largely unable to afford to live in the communities they serve.

“With so many Australians travelling hours each day to serve communities they cannot afford to live in or having to rent rather than being able to buy into their local community, it’s not surprising that many people are starting to acutely notice economic privilege and feel resentful and unvalued.”

Additional research found that the older Australians are, the more we realise we’re living in a class society and are aware of postcode inequality.

The number climbed from Gen Z (50%), Gen Y (53%), Gen X (63%), Baby Boomers (72%)

“It’s interesting that young people in their twenties are more likely to feel there’s a level playing field, however that number diverges as we get older and accumulate more assets,” Mr McCrindle said.

Dr McMillan also noted that following the basis of postcode privilege, 63 per cent of Australians also believed in economic and 58 per cent believe in social privileges being prevalent across certain sections of the community.

“Australians are much more optimistic than pessimistic about the future, however this data highlights the early signs of a fraying of our social fabric,” Dr McMillian warns.

“If our geography is increasingly defined by haves and have-nots, we’re setting ourselves up for generations of institutional failure, class divides and social disadvantage.”

For full details you can see the social fabric report here.

Source – Mainstreet Insights med rel

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