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Adelaide's happiness under microscope in world-first study


The happiness and wellbeing of Adelaide’s city workers, residents and business owners will be tested in a groundbreaking study later this year.

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The levels of positive emotion, meaning and accomplishment in the lives of Adelaide city residents, as well as the quality of their social connections, physical activity, nutrition and sleep will be studied for the first time.

Around 400 city workers, ratepayers, renters, business owners and international students – plus members of “isolated social groups” – will be asked to complete a detailed survey about their wellbeing and resilience.

The study, commissioned by the Adelaide City Council in partnership with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), is aimed at providing new insights into the social wellbeing of Adelaide’s residents to better target social policies.

The council’s community development team leader Amy Pokoney told InDaily the study would help the council make evidence-based decisions about which social programs needed the most support.

She said the survey – conducted online – would also aim to capture people with poor access to computers including the elderly, those that speak English as a second language and people of lower socio-economic status, to get an academically sound sample of the city population.

“It’s about more than just happiness,” said Pokoney – “it’s about people’s ability to bounce back”.

“It looks at positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

“[The] council is very excited to be leading the way, in partnership with SAHMRI, on this ground-breaking study.”

The study – expected to cost ratepayers $30,000 – will be the first to sample a city population using the program developed by the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, a former Adelaide Thinker in Residence and former head of the American Psychological Association.

The program – called PERMA+ (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment, plus physical activity, nutrition, sleep and optimism) – will be used to measure and build wellbeing in the City of Adelaide.

Late last year, the council confirmed the partnership with SAHMRI’s Wellbeing and Resilience Centre, to establish baseline data, and develop targets targets for wellbeing and resilience among city users.

The survey is due to be complete by the middle of the year.

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