Levels of loneliness

Social connection

Levels of loneliness

Feeling lonely, distant from others or like an outsider has a proven connection to low wellbeing and poor resilience.

Loneliness scale

This measure shows how lonely Canberrans feel. This is important because social isolation and loneliness can be harmful to mental and physical health.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic there was a large and significant increase in loneliness. Since then, loneliness levels have changed depending on the level of travel and social restrictions in place.

In 2023, 64.3% of Canberrans reported rarely experiencing loneliness, up from 56.9% in late 2019. Around 1 in 10 Canberrans (8.8%) often felt lonely. This is the lowest level since loneliness began being measured in the University of Canberra survey in late 2019. However, loneliness did not improve significantly for those:

2022-2023: Living well in the ACT region survey, unpublished data.

2019-2021: Living well in the ACT region: The changing wellbeing of Canberrans during 2020 and 2021.

Line graphs of percentage of loneliness levels, between 2019 and 2023.

In 2023, 64.3% hardly ever felt lonely compared to 51.8% in 2021.

In 2023, 26.9% sometimes felt lonely compared to 32.4% in 2021.

In 2023, 8.8% often felt lonely compared to 15.8% in 2021.

The Living Well in the ACT Region survey, conducted by the University of Canberra, aims to measure, track and understand the wellbeing of adult residents living in the Australian Capital Territory region of Australia. It examines factors known to affect wellbeing at the individual, household, community and regional level.

When generating data for the ACT, statistical weighting is used to address differences between the sample of people who respond to the survey, and the characteristics of the ACT adult population. Differences between groups are reported when there is a statistically significant difference based on 95% confidence intervals or other tests of significance.

Data are produced from this survey for different groups of people in the ACT. The ‘overall response’ category represents responses at the ACT population level. Where reliable estimates can be produced, data are also presented for Canberrans by: gender, age, cultural background, gender identity and sexuality, carer role and experience of disability.

Care is needed when interpreting the differences in findings between groups as the descriptive statistics published here show where there are differences in wellbeing, but not what has caused those differences in wellbeing.

The University of Canberra has been conducting the survey since 2019. As of mid-2023, the survey had been conducted 6 times. Not all questions have been measured each time the survey has been conducted.

There have been no changes in measure design, analysis or reporting of this measure since it was first included in the survey.

Data for people with disability are only available for 2023 due to a change in the way disability was defined and measured in the survey, to better reflect international best practice.

Further information about the survey can be found at Living Well in the ACT Region or by contacting Professor Jacki Schirmer at the University of Canberra.