In 2001, the Australian Centre on Quality of Life (ACQol) at Deakin University formed a partnership with Australian Unity to develop the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (AUWI) – a national survey of wellbeing in Australia.

Every year, we ask a randomly recruited and geographically representative sample of around 2,000 Australian adults (18+ years) about their personal and national wellbeing and other aspects of their life. Each survey examines how these measures vary by demographic groups and other groupings of interest.

To date, the AUWI has tracked the subjective wellbeing of over 75,000 Australian adults for more than two decades and is a rich source of data for researchers and policymakers. We’ve found that, as a whole, Australians’ subjective wellbeing is typically remarkably stable. However, people’s wellbeing can differ based on their circumstances and life experience.

Continuum of Care

  • Prevention
  • Treatment
  • Continuing Care
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  • Pregnancy
  • Infancy
  • Toddlerhood
  • Childhood
  • Adolescence
  • Young Adulthood
  • Middle Adulthood
  • Late Adulthood
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Subjective Wellbeing

Subjective wellbeing refers to one’s self-reported feelings about their overall life. It is often measured by asking a single question: “How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?”, referred to as Global Life Satisfaction. Although this question is an excellent measure of subjective wellbeing, a more reliable approach is to use a multi-item measure, which asks someone to rate their satisfaction across several aspects of their life. Considering satisfaction across key life areas provides a richer picture of people’s wellbeing, is more reliable than using a single question of life satisfaction, and, most importantly, provides more context to inform targeted policymaking and interventions.

Personal Wellbeing

To assess a more comprehensive picture of wellbeing, the AUWI asks about satisfaction within seven life areas – standard of living, personal relationships, achieving in life, community connectedness, safety, health, and future security. Using an internationally recognised methodology, the AUWI combines subjective ratings across these seven life areas into a single score out of 100, which forms the Personal Wellbeing Index. Developed by the International Wellbeing Group led by Emeritus Professor Robert Cummins, the PWI is a highly reliable measure that has been recommend as a preferred tool for measuring subjective wellbeing by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

National Wellbeing

Additionally, the AUWI measures national subjective wellbeing through a single question – “How satisfied are you with life in Australia?” – and through the National Wellbeing Index. The National Wellbeing Index determines average satisfaction across six domains of national life – the economy, the natural environment, social conditions, government, business, and national security.

The Australian Centre on Quality of Life (ACQol)

The Australian Centre on Quality of Life (ACQol) is part of Deakin University’s SEED Lifespan. In addition to the AUWI, the ACQol is home to the Australian Unity Longitudinal Wellbeing Study, which follows self-selected participants from the cross-sectional surveys over time. For more information, head to the ACQol website.


Kate Lycett
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