Australians want a future based on community wellbeing but believe one dominated by individualism and free enterprise is the more likely prospect.
That is the finding of a new survey produced by the Australian National University (ANU).
The Your Voice survey allowed respondents to pick from four possible futures: free enterprise; strong individualism; coordinated action; and community wellbeing.
Preliminary results found 71 per cent of randomly selected participants preferred the community wellbeing option. However, they also thought this was our least likely future, with just 17 per cent believing this is where Australia is heading.
“The majority of Australians preferred a community-wellbeing outcome – a future based on sustainability and community,” said senior researcher Ian Chambers from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.
“However, most people thought we were heading in the opposite direction, towards an individualistic economic growth based society, and which is also where they believed we are now.”
The most likely future people saw for Australia was free enterprise, which is based on economic growth at the expense of equity and environmental quality. More than one third of respondents felt that this was where Australia was likely heading.
The research used a scenario planning approach, which involved people being presented with a range of possible futures and choosing the one they want to work towards. The approach was famously used by South Africa to successfully transition from apartheid to the Rainbow Nation.
“What South Africa did was to gather together their leadership and work out the scenarios where they could potentially end up. And not all the options were attractive,” Chambers said.
“The scenario they chose was called Flight of the Flamingos, where everyone rose up together. It’s a very powerful image that was cascaded down through political, business and community groups to become part of the national agenda. It helped the transition towards the outcome of what became the Rainbow Nation.
“What is unique, however, about the Australian study is that participation is opened up to all Australians – an approach which has not been undertaken before on a national scale,” he said.
Participants can still take part in the Australia: Our Future, Your Voice Survey at http://www.anuscenarioplanning.com