Australia Talks

Melbourne University and the ABC have just surveyed 60 000 Australians on a series of topics, and released the results. Here are a few outcomes that grabbed my attention.

Gender differences between males and females were clear in the results. Women are more likely to believe in a ‘higher power’; to know their neighbours; to cry; to believe their priorities were clarified during COVID; to worry about their financial position now and in the future; and judge the gender gap as larger than do males.

That is quite a list. And there were other contrasts reported I have not mentioned. This is evidence that the female and male brains perceive and process information differently than males. This is evidence that there are discernible patterns of difference between males and females. All of which is being reported by the ABC!

Second, 62% of Australians believe it’s appropriate to use the personal pronoun (him, her, they) even if it differs from the gender of biological birth. This is evidence of the shift towards viewing identity as entirely psychological. A person is what they feel. Whereas I contended in the sermon series (as did Audine) that identity is a combination of spiritual, biological, social, and psychological factors.

Third, Australia’s social glue is losing its stickiness. Half of the people acknowledge they spend too much time online. Less than half of people (49%) would rather spend time with people than pets. 1/3 of people do not know their neighbours. 94% of people believe misinformation (fake news) is a problem, and 74% of people are finding it harder to know who to trust. This is an indictment of our culture, and an opportunity for Christian community to shine by way of contrast.

Finally, a few comments about COVID. 1/3 of people report a decline in mental health during COVID. Most people think it will take 12-24 months before things return to some sense of normality. This is another opportunity for the church. These are strange times in which God has called us to live and bear his image.

Rev David Rietveld

Senior Minister

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