Museum of Australian Democracy Survey 2011: Key findings
The following key findings have been distilled from our initial analysis of the Pure Profile Democracy Survey results and listed in order of position in the survey. Some of the findings combine the findings from more than one question and/or draw tentative, broader conclusions.
The value of Democracy
- Australians generally identify democracy with being about politics, electing who we want, equal rights for everyone and free speech. (Q1)
- One in five Australians has no opinion as to whether democracy is relevant to their day-to-day life. (Q3A)
- 85% of us value living in a democratic society. (Q3B)
- More than half of us agree that democracy is an interesting topic. (Q3)
Our involvement in Democracy
- Four in five Australians believe we need to keep working for our democratic rights. (Q3D)
- 40% of Australians disagree with the notion that we have lost interest in fighting for our rights. (Q4)
- Nearly one in three Australians cites being too busy as the reason why people don’t get involved in fighting for our rights. (Q4)
- Another 20% believe that there is no-one that inspires Australians to be passionate about democracy.
- 22% believe democracy is a complex subject, while one in four say that democracy is not something that they think about. (Q5)
- Less than 6% of Australians actively like to talk about democracy. (Q5)
- One in five Australians would not vote if it was not compulsory. (Q6)
- A similar proportion of Australians admit to having cast a donkey vote or refused to vote at an election. (Q7). Survey respondents cited a number of reasons for supplying donkey votes, but the majority showed that the reasons for donkey votes were because they did not like any of the options at the time.
- One in 10 Australians would sell their vote at an election if permitted. (Q13)
- Around 78% of Australians believe they have a fair or comprehensive understanding of how Australia is governed. (Q8)
- Two in three Australians say they know the name of their State and Federal MPs, less than that (58%) know the name of their local councillor or mayor. Men are more likely to know the name of their parliamentary representatives than women (72% versus 62%) and only half of the younger demographic (18 – 35) know who is representing them. (Q 10A & 10B)
- One in four Australians has attended a protest rally, and one in three has attended a public or community meeting. (Q11).
- Australians are willing to speak out about issues, with one in three saying that they have spoken to a stranger about a community/society issue.
- 70% of Australians have spoken to a friend about a community issue.
- Many Australians are likely to debate issues of national significance with their family (37%) and one in five will do this when reading the newspaper or watching the news.
- More than 30% of us have posted a comment online about an issue we are passionate about. (Q11)
- One in three Australians has written to their MP, two in three Australians have started or signed a petition but less than one in five has joined or supported a lobby group. (Q11)
- With issues that concern them, Australians say they would most write to their MP or sign a petition. (Q12) They are not as likely to attend a protest/rally or try to get support from their community. (Q12)
- Nearly two in three Australians thinks we should stand up for the rights of people living in non-democratic societies. (Q14)
- More than 90% of Australians rate crime and violence, the cost of living, access to and the standard of education, and health care, and job security as important or very important current issues for Australians. (Q15)
- Other very important or important issues for a majority of Australians include: poverty (82%), indigenous equality (68%), women’s rights (77%), climate change (65%), and immigration and asylum seekers (83%). (Q15)
- 38% of Australians regard gay marriage as an important or very important issue. (Q15)
- More than 88% of Australians believe the Government needs to consult the public more on policies (Q9)
The survey, carried out by Pure Profile, was based on Australian census demographics and weighted between states, age and sex. The sample included 1,011 respondents.