Media Release – Budget the start of wellbeing path, not the destination

  • CPD polling from February shows most people consider wellbeing the guiding purpose of government
  • A new report from the Centre for Policy Development’s Wellbeing Government Initiative maps global evidence for best practice approaches to wellbeing
  • Redefining Progress recommends sophisticated measurement that guides decision-making, embedded principles throughout government, and independent accountability

Monday 29 August 2022 – An Australian approach to wellbeing should progress beyond quality-of-life measurement and budgeting, be embedded throughout government decision-making,
and have independent oversight to ensure it remains on course, a new report has found.

Redefining progress: Global lessons for an Australian approach to wellbeing from the Centre for Policy Development’s Wellbeing Government Initiative examines approaches to wellbeing from 21 jurisdictions across four continents – including Australia – since the 1970s.

The report found that support and action from central agencies like Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet was a crucial first step to changing the things that matter most. This step should be followed
by frameworks to guide public officials in decision-making to ensure momentum is maintained.

It also found that reporting at regular intervals and independent oversight to ensure key milestones are passed, was necessary to keep wellbeing approaches on course and to guard against corner-cutting.

Lead report author, Centre for Policy Development senior advisor Dr Cressida Gaukroger said that Australia was well-positioned to launch its wellbeing pathway from a firm global evidence base.

“A wellbeing approach to government and the wellbeing economy can support better lives for everyone, which is why so many countries, states, territories, provinces and non-government organisations have been charting this course for the last 50 years,” Dr Gaukroger said.

“Governments from across the political spectrum and in diverse places around the world are working in new ways to design policy, metrics, and budgets that shape an economy that meets the needs of people and planet: a wellbeing economy.

“The first thing to know is that we need better tools to measure and change the things that matter most. We need to upgrade the hand-drawn map to a GPS.

“But that’s the tool, it’s not the journey. This research shows how we can stay on course by embedding wellbeing explicitly throughout public decision-making, putting people and communities in charge of their own path forward, and ensuring decision-makers are accountable to the path we have chosen.”