It probably comes as no surprise, but a new study has found Aussies increasingly distrust our key institutions including government, business, media and not-for-profit organisations.
The study, by PR firm Edelman, and titled the 2018 Trust Barometer, found all four institutions are now distrusted, and Australia’s overall Trust Index score is now just four percentage points higher than last-placed Russia.
Australians’ trust in their media is now the second-lowest in the world, behind only Turkey, at 31 per cent, however traditional media and journalists saw double-digit increases in trust, as Australians concerned about fake news return to more credible sources of information.
Media, despite recording another overall decline and sitting at just 31 per cent, saw a divergence in trust over the past year, with trust in traditional media rebounding from 46 per cent to 61 per cent, and credibility of journalists rising from 17 per cent to 28 per cent. Conversely, trust in social media fell to just 23 per cent, and trust in search engines dropped by 11 percentage points to 47 per cent.
In addition to having among the least trusted institutions in the world, a majority (56 per cent) of Australians describe the government as “broken”, with 65 per cent instead now looking to CEOs to take the lead on driving change.
The Trust Barometer, a global survey of people across 28 countries, revealed Australia’s overall Trust Index score is now in the bottom third globally, while together with Singapore, Australia is one of just two nations to register consecutive declines across all four key institutions. Trust in government declined from 37 to 35 per cent, business from 48 to 45 per cent, media from 32 to 31 per cent, and NGOs from 52 to 48 per cent.
Steve Spurr, CEO of Edelman Australia, said: “The decreasing Trust in government is a result of another unsettled year for Australian politics. Government uncertainty over energy supply, citizenship and the royal banking commission, in addition to continued infighting across the political spectrum has resulted in a nation that unfortunately, largely does not trust its government.
“It is deeply troubling that a majority of Australians believe their government is broken, however there is also an opportunity for businesses to stand up for the public on issues they believe are not being addressed.
“Corporate Australia’s strong and unified support for the marriage equality campaign demonstrated the institution’s ability to be a driver of societal change, and may have raised public expectations for future advocacy.”
When it came to media, Spurr noted: “The Trust Barometer found 65 per cent of Australians are no longer sure of what is true, and in an ultra-low trust environment where people are unsure of what to believe, traditional media organisations and journalists are enjoying a resurgence in credibility.”