Number 32: Contemporary Australian archetypes: different people, different needs




Author:  Helen L Berry, Peter Butterworth, Tanya M Caldwell and Bryan Rodgers

The paper reports on the first phase of a two-part research project that aims to substantiate a new approach to describing the Australian population for social policy purposes. By analysing psychosocial factors that contribute to overall wellbeing, the researchers have developed ways of generalising about the Australian population, which acknowledge the complexity of people's lives and may be more helpful for policy and program interventions than 'traditional' sociodemographic or economic analysis

This research proposes a method to understand how the multifaceted disadvantage that prevents people from participating and living full lives can be addressed; it also helps to explain why policies based solely on income support are often ineffective. This type of analysis sets up different ways of constructing groups of concern to social policy, which are theoretically sensible and intuitively suggestive of multidimensional policy responses (taking account of the different impacts on peoples lives) rather than one dimensional responses.

The five 'contemporary Australian archetypes' identified by the researchers are:

  1. Connected Retirees (representing 22 per cent of the population)
  2. Financially Secure Working Couples (20 per cent of the population)
  3. Time-pressured Couples with Children (26 per cent of the population)
  4. Dissatisfied Working Age Singles (19 per cent of the population)
  5. Marginalised Australians (13 per cent of the population).

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