Bastion’s ‘Adapting to the New Normal’ report shows Aussies remain optimistic for future

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the pandemic, Bastion’s latest report reflects on how omicron turned our Christmas and summer holiday period into another rollercoaster ride.

In Wave 27 of Bastion’s Adapting to the New Normal Report, concerns for personal and community health and the economy all increased, and concerns of COVID exposure prompted most Australians to change their behaviours again, with 35% choosing to self-isolate, while another 20% isolated due to infections (self or household). This led to flow-on impacts experienced by 86% of Australians and more than one in three Australians cancelling their summer travel plans.

As we approach late February, with the worst of omicron behind us, Australians remain relatively optimistic for their personal futures, but less so for Australia as a country, the report reveals. While they expect a return to ‘normal’ education and shopping behaviour, and even overseas travel in 2022 there are also expectations of a price increases and interest rate rises coming in 2022, and most believe it will be at least two more years before the pandemic is no longer having a significant influence on our lives.

Perceptions of the Federal Government response to COVID has plummeted further this wave. Almost one in two Australians (45%) hold negative perceptions of the Federal Government’s handling of the pandemic and at a state level, perceptions of the Federal and State Government’s COVID response are now lowest in QLD (28% and 41% respectively).

Australians’ confidence in employment in the next 12 months has rebounded this wave, with 70% of Australians confident about their employment over the next 12 months and only 14% not confident at all, with those in WA least confident (24%).

2022 is an employee’s market and it will be challenging for employers to hold onto their team with our survey showing significant shifts in the workforce with 28% of Australians now claiming to have changed jobs since the start of the pandemic (12% increase since Nov 21), 17% changed careers and 12% have started a business. For those employees working from home, around 50% do not expect to return to the office within the next three months.

Omicron turned Australia’s summer break into a very different one from what was expected in November last year. It heightened Australians’ concerns about exposure in most situations. With 12% of the population having now contracted COVID, most Australians (69%) remain somewhat vigilant to avoid infection.

The flow-on impact of Omicron to businesses was also felt by most Australians with 71% experiencing product availability issues, 56% delivery delays and 40% impacted by staff shortages in hospitality.

When it comes to travel, Omicron blew up our travel plans, with almost one in two Australians cancelling travel plans over the break. Only 28% of Australians had a holiday, 18% intrastate, 8% interstate and 4% overseas.

But as we approach the end of summer, there is now even more pent-up demand, with almost one in two Australians planning interstate holidays within the next three months. Consideration to travel to NSW and VIC has shown increases this wave.

While Omicron wreaked havoc over the summer period, life satisfaction remains relatively stable, and personal optimism has increased. But as a nation, our optimism remains low. Most Australians (58%) now believe COVID will have a significant impact for at least two more years, while almost 14% believe COVID is here to stay (down from 19% in November).

Significant price rises top the list of expectations for 2022 (84%) and more than three in four expect interest rate rises as well (77%). Along with this, most Australians are preparing for ongoing disruptions to events (78%), product shortages (76%) and significant staff shortages (71%). But it’s not all gloomy, with 61% expecting a return to overseas travel, 53% seeing a return to ‘normal’ education and one in two Australians expecting a return to ‘normal’ shopping behaviour.

Bastion has been tracking community sentiment for almost two years since the commencement of the pandemic. ‘Adapting to the New Normal’ is an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians each wave. This report from Wave 27 is based on a total sample of 1,048, surveyed 9th Feb – 11th February 2022.


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