Less than half of Australians change their behaviour when Governments communicate to them, according to research from consultancy SenateSHJ.
The findings of the inaugural Togetherness Index released today pose a significant challenge for Government communicators in an age of mistrust, misinformation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key findings include:
- One quarter of those surveyed still give thought to what business leaders say, and act on what they’ve heard.
- One fifth of Australians feel close to their local community.
- Just three in 10 people feel their voice is heard in community debates and discussions.
- • Only half are optimistic when they hear or see messages from State and Federal Governments.
- The Togetherness Index found five key communication drivers of social cohesion – closeness, listening, optimism, stories and effectiveness.
- • The Index is scaled on a score of 0 to 100, and rated the five at 59 on this scale – a pass mark
Almost a quarter of respondents said they do little or nothing to change their behaviour when Governments communicate to them. Just over half find Government communication trustworthy.
This is even though nine in 10 respondents believe it is important for Government to communicate to bring us together, and two thirds of people say they are effective at doing so.
To further compound the challenge, the research revealed the power of social media in shaping behaviour. Two fifths of people believe social media is effective at keeping us informed about issues. Over a fifth have changed their behaviour because of what they have seen, read or listened to on social media.
Traditional messengers such as the mainstream media are viewed as less trustworthy (40%) than government. This is in comparison to the most trustworthy sources – our family (78%) and friends (65%), both of whom are more influential in shaping behaviour.
The Togetherness Index is based on a survey of 1,000 Australians. It is the first of its kind to explore what components of communication contribute to togetherness, or social cohesion, within the community. It surveys communication from sources as diverse as government, media, social media, family, friends and community organisations.
Jodie Wrigley, Head of Health and Social Change at SenateSHJ, said: “With COVID-19 still raging and the challenges of misinformation on community togetherness rising, strategic communication has never been more important. It is paramount in promoting social cohesion. It can deliver the facts and help shape public sentiment, calm fear and drive behaviour change.
“But we need to get better at listening to each other. For communication to have maximum impact, there needs to be an uplift in how involved people feel with the community around them. And leaders across all institutions, including Government, need to get better at sharing communication and stories that inspire us. The Togetherness Index provides insight into how we can all get better at doing so.”
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