Measuring What Matters: Reflections on Australia's first national wellbeing framework

Posted August 02, 2023

SGS Economics and Planning Sue Holliday Black White Measuring What M Atters

On 21 July 2023, the Australian Government published the Measuring What Matters Statement, the nation’s first wellbeing framework. Measuring What Matters comprises 50 indicators across the themes of Healthy, Secure, Sustainable, Cohesive and Prosperous and was developed in consultation with experts and community members from all walks of life. It’s about understanding, measuring and improving things that matter to Australians.

Source: The Commonwealth of Australia 2023

Measuring What Matters serves as a wellbeing beacon for the sustainable progress of Australia. The framework provides guidance and the foundational evidence to enshrine thorough attention to the policy levers for improving wellbeing outcomes. To do so encourages a preventative and more efficient approach to the nation’s most pressing challenges. Over time, this will help to restore the balance of opportunity between places and their populations.

Recognising that the Measuring What Matters framework will evolve to reflect ongoing feedback, emerging evidence and future policy, SGS Economics and Planning's submission to the second consultation process for Measuring What Matters highlighted the following:

  • SGS Economics and Planning has long advocated for a stronger spatial understanding of opportunity in our cities and regions, releasing regional-scale estimates of economic performance annually for over 10 years. In 2023, we embarked on an ambitious expansion of our research to develop the first SGS Cities and Regions Wellbeing Index (CRWI). The report and interactive dashboard present a rich portrait of our communities nationally to highlight regional variance in wellbeing outcomes, viewed through 7 dimensions of objective wellbeing. The CRWI will be updated to strengthen its value as a longitudinal dataset.

      The Australian Government ”Measuring What Matters” statement notes the opportunity to improve the framework with more spatial and geographic analysis to understand variances from region to region.

      • It is important to consider how wellbeing indicators and the framework will inform different stages of the policy life cycle and who the primary stakeholders would be. This will support the implementation of the Measuring What Matters Statement. The benefits of mapping the role and significance of the Statement at each stage of the policy life cycle include clear governance and accountability. Moreover, this helps to clarify how the national wellbeing agenda may be localised.

      The Australian Government ”Measuring What Matters” statement notes the intent to embed the Framework into government decision-making and provide guidance for agencies to inform policy development and evaluation.

      Application of wellbeing indicators across the policy cycle

      Application of wellbeing indicators across the policy life cycle
      Source: Adapted from Stiglitz et al., 2018

      SGS Economics and Planning welcomes the landmark Measuring What Matters framework and the collaborations that will follow to measure, track and inform how we can improve wellbeing outcomes.

      Our SGS Cities and Regions Wellbeing Index highlighted that the story of Australia’s cities and regions is one of spatial inequality – where you live impacts your wellbeing. We are committed to providing data that helps better understand and track wellbeing beyond the national scale - in our cities and regions. Now, more than ever, we need to consider the spatial impacts of public policy.

      Download SGS Economics and Planning's full submission.

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