SYDNEY – Australia on Friday launched a dashboard of “national well-being” indicators to measure progress on issues such as health, education and the environment, one it hopes will lead to a better balance between economic and social goals.
It will track indicators in five categories: healthy, secure, sustainable, cohesive, and thriving, which can be viewed on an online dashboard and will be updated annually.
They are meant to complement traditional economic indicators such as gross domestic product, inflation and employment.
“I think one of the frustrations we’ve had for some time is that people have just thought that our social goals and our economic goals must be in conflict,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said at a news conference.
“I think they may be in concert and that’s what the national welfare framework is all about.”
In a 127-page report titled “Measuring What Matters” issued to accompany the dashboard, the government painted a mixed picture of well-being.
The report found that Australia had made progress in life expectancy, reducing resource use, diversity, income and employment. But measures of chronic health conditions, national security, biodiversity, and fiscal sustainability had declined.
Almost half of the population had one or more chronic health conditions, while 13% reported mental health problems. Access to medical care and waiting times for treatment had also worsened.
Measures of household financial stress and housing affordability had also deteriorated, and that was before the recent rise in the cost of living and the sharp rise in borrowing costs.
In total, 20 of the indicators had improved in recent decades, while seven were stable and 12 had deteriorated.
Several countries have attempted to diversify policymaking beyond economic benchmarks in recent years, the most famous being Bhutan, whose “gross national happiness” index is considered more important than GDP.
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