Poll reveals majority of voters say fix aged care 

19 May 2022

Fixing the aged care system is a major priority for most Australian voters, second only to reducing the cost of living, a new poll has found.

Results from an Australian National University poll of 3,587 Australians aged 18 and over in April – and released this month – found almost two-thirds of Australians (64.7 per cent) say reducing the cost of living should be the next federal government’s top priority. 

The survey found the second highest priority was fixing the aged care system, with 60.1 per cent of voters highlighting this as a key issue. 

Interestingly the survey found 52.8 per cent of voters would be very likely to vote for a woman, compared to 43.4 per cent of voters who said the same about male candidates.

This is despite the fact that just two-in-10 female candidates from Australia's two major parties are contesting winnable seats in the 2022 federal election, new analysis from the ANU shows.   

The other top five priorities among voters included strengthening the nation’s economy (54.4 per cent), reducing the cost of health care (53.5 per cent), and dealing with global climate change (52.8 per cent).

The policy area considered least important was dealing with issues of immigration, which was only of concern to 22.3 per cent of voters. Only 27.2 per cent of voters thought fixing the budget was a top priority. 

Another statistic revealed that only about a third (36.5 per cent) of Australians think that dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak should be a top priority for government. 

The ANU says two areas of public policy that make for an interesting contrast are aged care and childcare.
“We asked respondents how high a priority it was to increase wages in both these systems, with the results turning out quite differently,’’ the ANU said. “43.2 per cent of Australians thought it a top priority to increase wages in aged care, whereas only 29.8 per cent said the same regarding childcare wages. This is despite both having similar average hourly wages and qualification requirements.’’

The ANU says the difference in support for a wage increase may reflect the recent policy attention on aged care due to the Royal Commission and deaths due to COVID-19 outbreaks, and a recognition of the generally very difficult working conditions in aged care. 

The final policy area that has low prioritisation (under one-third support) is ‘Strengthening the Australian military’, with only 28.9 per cent of Australians identifying this area as a top priority. This low level of support is despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, as well as the significant defence spending announced prior to and within the 2022/23 Federal Budget.