National Survey Shows Australians Are Becoming More Liberal in Moral Values

65 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds accept same-sex couples with children as families, while only 14 percent of those aged over 65 hold the same view.

A nation-wide social survey in Australia has recently found that young adults in Australia are far more liberal in their moral values on relationships, abortion and same-sex marriages compared to the previous generation, reported the Australia Associated Press (AAP) on Tuesday.

“The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA): The First Report,” was released on Sept. 5 by Australian National University. This year, some 4,300 Australians aged 18 or older responded to the questionnaire developed by the University’s Center for Social Research in the Research School of Social Sciences. The questionnaire contained over 200 questions about different aspects of life, ranging from work to family, and relationship to general worldview.

According to AAP, 65 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds accept same-sex couples with children as families while only 14 percent of those over 65 hold the same view.

On abortion, just 70 percent of the over-65 category agreed that women should have the right to choose, compared to 90 percent of younger women and 80 percent of younger men, AAP quoted from the report.

In the face of crisis over moral values, Australians still appear very confident in the future of the country in terms of economy. AAP said 80 percent of Australians were proud of the nation's economy, compared to only 48 percent 10 years ago.

Dr. Shaun Wilson, the survey report’s author and a Sociology lecturer from the Australian National University, commented that the liberal mood of young Australians was very evident and warned against the trend.

"If we look at where that is going to take Australian society in the future, it will produce a public that's more supportive of same-sex right," he was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Australia as saying.

Dr. Wilson has also tried to draw the correlation between physical affluence and moral decline.

"A long period of relative prosperity had led to more confidence in the economy and people feeling less threatened by immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion," he stated.

Meanwhile, a significant drop in the number of people who have confidence in the church was observed, from 43 percent in 1995 to 35 percent in 2005 – a result possibly linked to the scandals in churches, especially those involving homosexuality. The increasing tolerance in liberal moral values could also be related to the lost of trust towards churches, the AAP report stated.

Since the AuSSA began in 2003, the new biennial mail survey has gathered opinions from thousands of Australians selected randomly from the AEC’s Electoral Roll. It is spearheaded by the Center for Social Research in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

The data obtained will become the official contribution by Australia to the International Social Survey, covering 39 countries, and the World Values Survey involving 90 countries.