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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

How are 2020 challenges changing quality of life for Canberrans?

First bushfires, then a major hailstorm and now COVID-19. 2020 has brought with it many challenges for people living in the ACT and surrounding NSW, and researchers from the University of Canberra (UC) want to know how it is impacting the wellbeing and quality of life of residents.

All people aged 18 and older living in the ACT and surrounding regions are invited to take part in a survey tracking how events this year are impacting their wellbeing.

The UC researchers first conducted the ‘Living well in the ACT region’ survey late last year, just before the bushfires started. Now, they are asking thousands of people to take part in the survey, so they can track how wellbeing and quality of life are changing.

Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer from the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra says that to support people through COVID-19, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the ways their lives are changing.

“We know that some people—like parents who are working full-time while home schooling their children—are having to juggle a lot of additional work,” said Associate Professor Schirmer. “Others in the community may be feeling much more isolated as they aren’t able to see the people they are close to.”

In the first survey, the researchers found that many of Canberra’s younger people, aged under 30, experience high levels of social isolation even in normal times.

“We want to find out how they are coping, as well as older residents and those juggling work and families,” said Associate Professor Schirmer.

One of the main aims of the survey is for researchers to understand how different events add up.

“We know some people have been affected by bushfires, then hail and now COVID-19, while others have not been affected so severely or at all. To better support people’s wellbeing, we need to understand what we call ‘cumulative impacts’ where the effects of different events experienced simultaneously or in close succession combine to affect wellbeing in ways that they might not have if experienced separately,” said Associate Professor Schirmer.  

To take part in the survey click here. The survey closes 4 May 2020, and all participants can enter a prize draw to win one of 13 prizes worth a total of $3,000. Prize winners will also be given the option of donating their prizes to those in need.

Meanwhile, a research team led by Associate Professor Schirmer has also won a Medical Research Future Fund research grant for a project to support mental health in our region as we rebuild after the summer bushfires.

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