Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians

Landmark report reveals the wellbeing divide among older Australians.

IWOA Main Image

What is the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians (IWOA)?

The Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians is an Australia-wide study – the first of its kind – into the wellbeing of older people. It maps how older Australians are faring nationally across five key areas (‘domains’), including, health, resources, participation and wealth. The most significant finding was that secure and affordable housing is the most crucial factor affecting an older person’s wellbeing.

Fast facts

  • The IWOA is an Australia-wide study into the wellbeing of older people in their local area.
  • The study ranks groups from one to five, with Quintile 1 representing the lowest wellbeing score and Quintile 5 representing the highest.
  • We defined wellbeing around a series of ‘domains’: wealth & housing, functional ability, participation, resources and education. 
  • Data was largely drawn from the census, but also from a range of other public sources.
  • There are a series of interactive IWOA maps online. Check how your community is doing and how it compares to others.

Who did the research?

The Benevolent Society commissioned The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) to produce the index and report.  We also worked with a voluntary expert advisory group from other human services organisations, the Department of Social Services and academia.

Why is this study so important?

It’s the first time we’ve had access to this data! The IWOA is the first report of its kind, giving us specific information about the wellbeing of older people in their local communities.  We’ve got Socio- Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) for the whole population and indexes for young people, but nothing for an ageing population.

How can the report help older Australians?

The index is a tool for governments, planners and services for monitoring the wellbeing of older people within local areas and for comparing the effectiveness of policies and programs across different areas. It identifies the areas where older people with the lowest level of wellbeing live, and the factors that contribute most to their low wellbeing.

Key findings & implications

  • The largest concentrations of older people experiencing low wellbeing tend to be in outer metropolitan areas.
  • Older people in regional areas of Australia generally have moderate to high levels of wellbeing, with the exception of some regional towns where well-being is low.
  • The areas of each state with the lowest and the highest levels of wellbeing are almost all located in major cities.
  • The most important indicator – the one that influences everything else – is housing.  It is difficult to understate the importance of building comprehensive strategies to address housing affordability among current and future generations of older people. Otherwise, we face a crisis of wellbeing among the growing number of older people on low incomes who don’t own a home.
  • Older people in private rental, on a low income, are doing it toughest. With so much of their income spent on housing costs there is little to cover essentials like food, health, transport and energy costs. For some, it means being forced to move to areas with less amenities and poorer access to services.
  • Sometimes data wasn’t available so there are big sections of the country that we can’t report on.

  • Future versions of the index would benefit from the inclusion of small area indicators on health status, health service use and safety/security.
  • We don’t differentiate by gender, indigenous or cultural identity because the data doesn’t allow that at the moment.

Limitations of the research

  • Sometimes data wasn’t available so there are big sections of the country that we can’t report on.
  • Future versions of the index would benefit from the inclusion of small area indicators on health status, health service use and safety/security.
  • We don’t differentiate by gender, indigenous or cultural identity because the data doesn’t allow that at the moment.

 

Contact Us

If you are interested in learning more about the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians, please email us.

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Inteactive Maps

Explore the interactive maps to see how your community is doing and how it compares to others.

Interactive Maps
IWOA Snapshot

Read the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians report snapshot.

Report Snapshot
IWOA Full Report

You can read the full report here.

IWOA Final Report Feb 2016
Technical Report

The full results from the modeling are shown in the technical report.

Technical Report
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