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Optimism and Reality

Uncertainty leading into 2021

Not only have the events of 2020 stretched Australians beyond their capacity (55%), but many expect their struggles to continue. Three in five Australians (59%) are worried about the economy and how changes will affect their job in the year ahead.

Younger generations are more likely than older Australians to feel 2020 has stretched them beyond their capacity (78% Gen Z, 74% Gen Y cf. 54% Gen X, 32% Baby Boomers, 28% Builders) and that changes in the economy will affect their job in the year ahead (76% Gen Z, 80% Gen Y cf. 67% Gen X, 32% Baby Boomers, 23% Builders).

Australians are aware of the realities

While the promise of a new year is filled with hope and new beginnings, Australians are hesitant heading into 2021 and unsure what to expect. Four in five Australians (81%) believe that although COVID-19 has been big the next few decades will bring even bigger economic and global health shocks.

As well as new health shocks, Australians believe new outbreaks of COVID-19 will continue to occur. Seven in ten Australians (72%) expect there will be more COVID-19 outbreaks and a temporary return of restrictions.
“Much of what we had pre-COVID we will never see again. We are not moving to the next but the new. It is not a continuation of how things were, but the start of a whole new reality.” said Dr McMillan

Australia, the nation to be proud of

Despite the negative events of the past and the bleak outlook on the future years, Australians are proud of their response so far and believe government support has been beneficial. Three in five Australians (59%) believe that access to government support has helped to decrease the impacts of COVID-19 on their mental health and four in five Australians (82%) are proud of how the nation has rallied together to get through 2020.

Younger generations are the least likely to be proud of how Australians have rallied together to get through 2020 in comparison to older generations (69% Gen Z, 80% Gen Y cf. 83% Gen X, 86% Baby Boomers, 92% Builders).

Australians are optimistic and hopeful for the new year

Although the events of 2020 and the pandemic have been challenging, Australians are optimistic. Almost nine in ten Australians (87%) are hopeful for the new year and 81% are feeling optimistic as they come out of the pandemic.

Australians living in New South Wales are more likely to agree they are hopeful for the new year than Australians living in other states (90% NSW cf. 86% QLD, 87% VIC).

“The age at which we experience a transformative event determines how embedded it will be in our psyche. While the pandemic has impacted us all, its social effects are most marked in the younger generations.” said Mark McCrindle

Media contact

For media commentary on the research please contact Dr Lindsay McMillan on 0409 186 322 or McCrindle on (02) 8824 3422 or

About Mainstreet Insights

Mainstreet Insights, initiative of Reventure and McCrindle, exists to provide insights to build flourishing communities. It seeks to understand Australians as people not just consumers or employees. It explores the big issues of life that are impacting main street Australia. From family and relationships to education, faith, wellbeing and work, it is a collection of timely insights that speaks into important community conversations to enable leaders to make informed decisions.

About this study

This research conducted for Mainstreet Insights endeavours to provide insights into the concerns, behaviours, beliefs and habits of Australians as they emerge out of 2020 and begin the new year. It is based on an online survey deployed to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians. Data was collected between the 1st to the 6th of October 2020. The birth years of the generations referred to in this research are: Builders born before 1946; Baby Boomers born 1946-1964; Generation X born 1965-1979; Generation Y born 1980-1994 and Generation Z born 1995-2009.

Study demographics