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Gender Inequality and Religious Intolerance Pull Australia Down in Ranks

21 June 2017 at 4:40 pm
Rachel McFadden
Gender inequality, a lack of religious tolerance and political terror are negatively affecting Australians’ quality of life, a new report has revealed.

Rachel McFadden | 21 June 2017 at 4:40 pm


Gender Inequality and Religious Intolerance Pull Australia Down in Ranks
21 June 2017 at 4:40 pm

Gender inequality, a lack of religious tolerance and political terror are negatively affecting Australians’ quality of life, a new report has revealed.

The Social Progress Index report, released on Wednesday, ranked Australia the ninth best country in the world to live in terms of quality of life.

The 2017 report, which surveyed 128 countries and measured a country’s social performance independent of economic factors, ranked Australia five places lower than it had been in 2016.

The index was based on a range of social and environmental indicators that captured three dimensions of social progress: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity.

Deloitte Australia national lead partner for public sector and healthcare Fran Thorn said that while Australians still enjoyed a good quality of life very little had been done to advance social progress over the past four years.

“While we enjoy an enviable standard of living in Australia, this report reflects Australia’s current most highly debated social issues, ranging from the quality of electricity supply, control of greenhouse emissions, gender issues, and political terror and religious tolerance,” Thorn said.

“We lead the world on access to clean water, secondary education, and freedom of expression; we are the fourth healthiest nation in the world and rank fifth for access to advanced education.

“Yet, like many other advanced nations we have made very little gains in the past four years, relative to what our GDP indicates is possible to advance social progress.”

Thorn said there were opportunities for both the public and private sector to improve the quality of life for Australians and ignoring these challenges would come at a cost.

Denmark was the world’s top performer on the Social Progress Index in 2017, closely followed by the remaining Nordic countries.

Among the bottom performers were some of the world’s poorest countries, including Central African Republic (ranked lowest), Afghanistan, Chad, Angola, and Niger.

Social Progress Imperative CEO Michael Green said the index detected two “troubling” global trends: the decline of personal rights, personal safety and tolerance and inclusion, as well as slow and uneven progress worldwide.

“Millions of people are experiencing a shameful rolling back of their freedoms, more violence and injustice, and blatant discrimination and exclusion from life’s most meaningful opportunities,” Green said.

The report found that since 2014 personal rights, which included political rights and the freedom of expression, declined in more countries than it improved.

On the measure of tolerance and inclusion, which included acceptance of immigrants, homosexuals and religious minorities, the report found that in general European countries were consistent or improving gradually.

“But there have been substantial declines in the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia where they are experiencing signs of deteriorating tolerance towards immigrants and increasing discrimination against minorities,” the report said.

The report concluded that: “The world is underperforming on social progress compared to what the average GDP per capita suggests is possible.”

“Despite having the greatest wealth, largest populations and strongest regional influence, G20 countries like France, the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and China have been largely unsuccessful at improving social and environmental outcomes and continue to underperform compared to what their GDPs suggest is possible,” the report said.

“This signals that we have the resources to be better and that rising GDP figures are masking real problems societies face and the struggles of ordinary people.”

Rachel McFadden  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Rachel is a journalist specialising in the social sector.

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