A conceptual framework for Australia's welfare summary indicators was first presented in Australian Welfare 2001. The framework was developed based on a review of national and international frameworks and indicator sets. The components reflect the welfare of Australian society and in particular, the measurable aspects of welfare status. The framework is designed to underpin the development of a set of practical and relevant statistical indicators.
Autonomy and participation are considered to be essential indicators of welfare, and reflect the very human and personal aspects of individuality, and workplace and community interactions that are vital to positive wellbeing. Data relating to autonomy the capacity to have freedom of opportunity and choice in daily living and participation in the community provide information on personal and environmental factors that make up welfare.
Further sub-dimensions are autonomy and participation:
education and knowledge, economic resources, employment, transport and communication, and recreational use of time.
These indicators not only identify our individual resources and our national employment patterns, but also reflect the ways in which Australians interact within society.
The material standard of living enjoyed by individual Australians primarily depends on their command of economic resources, both in the immediate and long term. Economic factors are related to all aspects of the welfare framework, including health, education, employment and social networks.
Indicators to describe the economic wellbeing of Australians . While income data are the most commonly reported measures of economic status, an individual's income can fluctuate dramatically across different life stages, and alone does not determine material quality of life. Other factors are the extent to which income is 'buffered' by accumulated wealth, and the amount of economic resources needed to fulfil different financial commitments.
Income and income distribution
Financial stress and hardship
Wealth and wealth distribution
Employment provides avenues for income and as such is a major factor influencing material wellbeing. In addition, employment is strongly related to other aspects of the welfare framework. It is recognised as an integral part of adult participation in society, providing individuals with opportunities for personal development and social interaction. Indicators include:
Labour force participation and employment
Employment basis and conditions
Employment and labour force differentials
Having access to reliable transport allows people to participate and interact with the community. Reliable transport not only enhances social wellbeing but can also broaden access to jobs, which in turn may increase financial security.
Access to means of communication is also beneficial to many aspects of welfare. The rapid increase in communication technologies is making interpersonal communication more accessible through mobile phones and over the Internet. This enables greater access to many more educational and social resources.
Healthy living represents the basic necessities of everyday living, such as nutritious food, clean air and water, appropriate shelter and positive feelings of safety.
All of these factors play an important role in the promotion and maintenance of physical, mental, and social wellbeing.
Living in an environment free from harmful levels of pollution, with access to safe drinking water and nutritious food, are fundamental needs of healthy living.
These basic requirements greatly influence the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
The indicators presented in this section represent key issues relating to the opportunities, constraints and choices that face Australians as they seek to lead healthy lives.
Health has been defined as 'a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity' (WHO 1946). As a part of the welfare framework, good health represents quality of life in terms of longevity, functioning and participation, all of which play an important role in everyday living. Further subdimensions that represent different aspects of health are;
Expected years of life lived with disability,
Physical activity, and
Prevalence of obesity
Access to adequate shelter and housing is recognised as a basic human need. As well as providing protection from environmental elements and access to facilities such as heating and sanitation, housing gives people a place to enjoy privacy and recreational activities, keep their possessions, spend time with friends and family, and express their identity (ABS 2001a). Housing equity is also a major component of personal wealth.
Shelter and housing are used to describe the housing circumstances of Australians and can be further devidied into three sub dimensions.
Families are the core unit of society in which people are supported and cared for and social values are developed. The role of each member within a family can be affected by changes in family situations and changes in the formation of the family itself. How well families function is a key factor in their ability to nurture personal wellbeing and serve as the basis for a cohesive society.
The structure of Australian families has undergone considerable transformation over recent years, reflecting wider social, demographic and economic changes. Further sub-dimensions include: social marriage status, family composition and age-specific and divorce rates. Together, they illustrate some of the main ways in which the concept of family continues to develop and change.