The Fairfax Herald/Age Wellbeing Index indicates that despite ‘temporary stumbles and confusing contradictory trends’ there is solid evidence for optimism about our future as there has been 2% ‘good growth’ in the value of Australia’s human capital.
The following supports the notion of growth in our human capital:
The Sydney Morning Herald comments that:
“The Wellbeing index is undoubtedly right…to regard a better trained workforce as an unquestionable sign of progress..
[It is disquieting to see] the federal government’s reluctance to back the Gonski committee’s recommended reforms, including the big boost to school funding. The Gonski formula should be a circuit-breaker for both sides of politics, because it offers a way out of the problems which short-sighted, narrowly focused programs from the past have produced. It would be a tragedy if this sensible attempt to find a middle way through a difficult issue became yet another political football.
Another worry is that..the state government (NSW) appears not to have quarantined teachers in technical and further education from the budget cutbacks it is planning to make to the public service – though it has said it will not cut school teachers, nurses or police. Technical education has long been the neglected sector of tertiary education – a paradox, since it is so vital for supplying the training a skilled workforce needs. It is no luxury.
The Wellbeing index shows that thanks to some sensible past decisions Australians are becoming better off. But progress is not inevitable. Bad decisions could easily make things worse.”
Sasha Graham describes herself as wanting to ‘actively and robustly contribute to a more democratic, socially innovative and connected Australia. Her comments in response to Geraldine Doogue’s Radio National interview with Geoff Gallop about his book ‘Politics, Society, Self’ are worth passing on.
“We all want a better life, for ourselves and our children. We also care about the progress of our communities and our country. We like to think that we will leave a positive legacy for the generations that come after us. But how do we know if we, as a nation, are on the right track? What does progress really mean? How do we decide what counts as progress? How can we measure how well we are succeeding?
By definition, the progress of a nation or a community is measured by how well it moves towards set goals and values. Until recently, most of the national conversations about our progress have been focused on economic growth or GDP as the key goal for Australia. Now, more than ever, human progress is increasingly being understood as much more complex than this, including the values that underpin our life together, goals that relate to our wellbeing as individuals and as communities, and the effective and sustainable use of our resources for the wellbeing of future generations.
Deciding what progress means for Australia and how to measure it isn’t simply a matter of policy for lawmakers or a technical question for experts. It’s a democratic question for all Australians, and The ABS was the first national statistics office in the world to develop an integrated set of national progress measures and this project itself became one of the main inspirations for the OECD’s global project. Last year the Australian Government commenced on the development of Australia’s Wellbeing Index.
Progress is more than economic growth
GDP was never designed to measure the overall progress and wellbeing of the nation. It is the sum total of the goods and services bought and sold in our economy. Certainly, it is an important statistic in its own right for reasons such as national economic planning. But as a measure of the overall progress and wellbeing of the nation, it is not just inadequate but misleading.
GDP doesn’t distinguish between those things that add to our wellbeing, and those that diminish it.
It doesn’t account for the depletion of our natural resources, sovereignty and sustainability.
In the past decade, there has been increasing recognition that national wellbeing is based more than just economics. This movement is being driven by citizens, policymakers, academics and statisticians working together globally and locally and championed by international organisations like the OECD and the United Nations.
This has stimulated research to define fulfillment and quality of life through measures related to social, cultural, spiritual and environmental dimensions. A focus on wellbeing recognizes that increased economic wealth is not always positively aligned with increased health and happiness of an individual or the wider community.
The global push to measure real progress:
Look To Communities For Vision And Wisdom
We need to be looking towards communities for vision and wisdom – within their varying contexts, at the local government level.
Australians need advocacy and leadership in support of local community engagement and asset-based wellbeing indicator framework based on the aspirations, needs and barriers are to achieving wellbeing (economic, social, cultural, environmental). This needs political support nationally, as well as state by state.
It would ultimately enable politicians a tool to inform the national values/vision to guide leaders on policy and funding decisions once Federal Government implements its proposed Wellbeing Index (ABS). Australian National Development Index (ANDI) is an independant organisation formed by Victorian academics promoting a more democratic approach, with cross-sectoral partner support.
An approach would stimulate local enterprise, community development programs, matched funding, sustainability, cultural and human service development to help communities where they are at and inform more evidence based national debates.
Our Leaders Need To Look To Communities
Leaders need to be looking towards communities for the vision and wisdom – within their varying contexts. Australians need advocacy and leadership in support of local community engagement and asset-based wellbeing indicator framework based on the aspirations, needs and barriers are to achieving wellbeing (economic, social, cultural, environmental).
This would ultimately enable a tool to inform the national values/vision to guide leaders on policy and funding decisions once Federal Government implements its proposed Wellbeing Index – which is starting to happen worldwide.”
Well said Sasha