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Australians view Terrorism & War as the most important problems facing the World after terrorist incidents and rising global tensions

Source: Roy Morgan interviewed a representative cross-section of 648 Australians in May 2017.
In mid-2017, 31% of Australians regard Terrorism & War as the biggest problems facing the World. This has nearly doubled since March, up by 15%, while also up 8% from a year ago in mid-2016.

In contrast to their views on World problems, only 5% of respondents mentioned Terrorism & War as the biggest problem facing Australia compared to 38% that mentioned Economic issues. The views of Australians on the major Economic problems facing Australia are extensively covered here.

Although Terrorism & War is the dominant World problem in mid-2017, other major themes to emerge were on a global level were Environmental issues led by Climate change and Global warming which was mentioned by 21% of respondents and Economic issues – mentioned by 18% of respondents. These results were covered extensively in our release on broader Australian Concerns available here.


Concern about Terrorism & War heavily influenced by current events

Concerns about Terrorism tend to spike in the wake of current events and this survey was conducted in the wake of several high profile terrorist incidents in the United Kingdom including the Manchester bombing which occurred the week the survey was conducted.

  • Terrorism mentioned by 17% of respondents: Verbatim comments about Terrorism often referenced the act with where it ‘came from’ – ie the Middle East, although mentions of ISIS were well down on past surveys. References were also made to recent terrorist events that have been in the news.

  • War and conflicts mentioned by 8% of respondents: Verbatim comments about War and conflicts brought up the volatile situation in Korea, unrest in the Middle East and also the possibility of nuclear war caused by unstable relationships with major countries including Russia and China.

Most Important Terrorism & War Problems Facing the World

Most Important Problems Facing the World - Terrorism Issues - Mid-2017Source: Roy Morgan interviewed a representative cross-section of 648 Australians in May 2017.

Other themes related to Terrorism & War mentioned by respondents include World Peace – mentioned by 3%, Security & Safety mentioned by 2% and Relations with other countries mentioned by just under 1% of respondents.


Analysis of Concerns relating to Terrorism & War by Age & Gender

Analysing the question by Age and Gender shows Women (33%) are more concerned about Terrorism & War than Men (29%) while older age groups are clearly more concerned about these issues than younger Australians – this is despite the fact recent Australian victims of terrorism have themselves tended to be young.

Australians aged 65+ years old are the most concerned about Terrorism & War – over 48% mentioned the issues as the biggest problem facing the World – far higher than any other age group. Just under 34% of those aged 35-49 years old and 30% of 50-64 year olds mentioned Terrorism & War – close to the overall figure while under 21% of 14-24 year olds and only 19% of 25-34 year olds mentioned these issues.


Most Important Problem Facing the World – Terrorism & War by Age & Gender

May
2017

AGE

GENDER

14-24

25-34

35-49

50-64

65+

F

M

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Terrorism

16.5

12.9

8.4

21.0

15.4

23.2

20.9

12.1

Wars and Conflicts

8.2

7.7

6.3

5.7

7.4

  14.7

7.5

9.0

World peace

3.0

-

1.7

2.7

3.7

6.3

3.6

2.3

Security, safety

2.4

-

0.8

3.4

3.1

4.2

0.8

4.1

Relations with other countries

0.7

-

1.8

0.7

0.7

-

0.3

1.0

TOTAL Terrorism/Wars/Security/Safety

30.8

20.7

19.2

33.5

30.3

48.3

33.1

28.5

Respondents who mentioned Terrorism often referenced the act with where it comes from, although mentions of ISIS or Islamic State were well down on past surveys. References were also made to recent terrorist events that have been in the news.


Women on Terrorism

Of the 20.9% of women who mentioned Terrorism, which was far more frequently mentioned than men, the women explored the impact of Terrorism on communities and the flow-on problems it causes.

“Terrorists” (By many respondents)

“Terrorism” (Also, by many respondents)

“Terrorism – I think the whole world is petrified which then leads to racism which then leads to more terrorism. As a result of events like 9/11 and other terrorism events uneducated people make generalisations which leads to more racism and more terrorism. It’s a cycle”

“The whole terrorism business – it’s a threat to our normal way of life”

“Terrorism. ISIS is causing distrust, bigotry and suspicion. ISIS isn’t based on religion, just a bunch of wackos and idiots. They just want control”

“Terrorism creates a constant state of turmoil”

“Terrorism – well I just think it’s making things so unsafe”

“Terrorism and the impact of terrorism is making the world become unpredictable and volatile”

“Terrorism – the increasing threat of it increases safety problems”

“The rise in terrorism is part of a pattern of general upheaval over the world, it’s quite bad”

 

Men on Terrorism

The 12.1% of men who mentioned Terrorism were more likely to mention specific terrorist acts and the ideology that spawns much of modern day terrorism which originates in the Middle East.

“Terrorism – especially after what’s just happened in London”

“Terrorism – with the recent bombing in Manchester it’s definitely front of mind at the moment”

“The events in England give us pause to look to the advent of terrorism, where does it come from and how does it impact on our grandkids’ future?”

“Terrorism and terrorist attacks. Spreading from the Middle East to the rest of the World”

“The bombings”

“Terrorism and in particular religious terrorism”

“Terrorism – we live in a country and world at the moment that is totally without peace and until that’s achieved nothing will probably be achieved”

“Terrorism – which has grown out of the ISIS issue from Iraq and Syria”

“Terrorism – I think ISIS is our biggest current crisis”

“Terrorism which is people with a political ideology spawned from the Middle East trying to blow people up”


Respondents who mentioned War and conflicts brought up the volatile situation surrounding North Korea, the continuing unrest in the Middle East and also the possibility of nuclear war caused by unstable relationships with major countries including Russia and China.


Women on Wars and conflicts

The 7.5% of women who mentioned Wars and conflicts voiced concerns about North Korea and their threat of nuclear war along with the continuing unease in the Middle East and its ongoing conflicts.

“North Korea – Kim Jong-Un”

“North Korea and the threat of nuclear war”

“Nuclear weapons”

“Probably war, and the threat of war”

“The Middle East and the war issue ongoing over there”

“The problems in the Middle East – I just think that with everything going on in that part of the world, that the Western world can play a part in changing things for the better over there”

“The possibility of war or something like that”

“So many things, I don’t know, it’d be the insecurity of all around the world in terms of war”

“The ongoing crisis in the Middle East with continuing conflict creating migration problems”

“The war that’s happening. We just need to try and figure out what we can do and try to prevent it”


Men on Wars and conflicts

The 9.0% of men who mentioned Wars and conflicts brought up the threat of a third World War with the global unrest and instability and issues with rising power China causing tension in addition to concerns about North Korea and the Middle East.

“A possible third World War caused by the global unrest and lack of peace”

“The unstable relationships between countries like Russia, North Korea, China and others”

“I would think it’s the potential for world warfare”

“The threat of another war because of the lack of political stability”

“The issues between countries including the USA, Russia and North Korea”

“China is the problem. Their aggression in the South China Sea is a part of it. They’re impossible to negotiate with and anyone who negotiates with them is told ‘it’s ours’”

“The armament of North Korea – ie the nuclear weapons they’re trying to get”

“The North Korean nuclear regime”

“The threat of nuclear war from North Korea”

“The tension with North Korea – if they have what they say they have, the missiles, it could end in World War 3”

“The Middle East and the conflicts in places like Israel and Palestine”

“All the conflict in the Middle East”

 

Michele Levine, CEO Roy Morgan, says:

“Terrorism & War are clearly the leading problems facing the World in mid-2017 – mentioned by 31% of Australians and well ahead of other major themes including Environmental issues like Climate change and Global warming mentioned by a total of 21% of respondents and various Economic issues mentioned by 18% of respondents.

“The contrast with the local context is clear with only 5% of respondents saying Terrorism & War are the biggest problems facing Australia despite recent local incidents including a shooting in Melbourne (in Brighton) that police classified as a terrorist act. The key issue for Australia, Economic issues mentioned by 38% of Australians, is covered extensively here.

“Terrorism & War have surged in importance for Australians in recent months with a series of terrorist attacks in London (twice), Paris, Manchester, Brussels and several third world countries giving the issue of terrorism renewed prominence. Now 17% of Australians mention Terrorism as the biggest problem facing the World – the highest figure for Terrorism since October 2015.

“The increasing tensions in many parts of the world have also had a clear impact with 8% of Australians mentioning Wars and Conflicts as the most important problem facing the World. Many respondents referred particularly to the escalating tensions in North Korea with the so-called ‘rogue State’ pursuing a nuclear weapons program risking a new war potentially drawing in geo-political heavyweights including China, Russia and the United States.

“In addition to the troubles on the Korean peninsula the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and in particular in Syria and Iraq were also frequently mentioned. Although the Syrian Government supported by its allies Russia, Iran, Hezbollah (Lebanon) and militias from Afghanistan and Iraq appears on the verge of victory against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) questions remain about the future resolution of the conflict with so many different countries involved militarily in Syria – including Australia.

“However, there is good news this week with the Iraqi Government announcing the liberation of Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul in recent days and the confirmed elimination of the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, raising hopes that the war with Islamic State will soon be over.”

These findings come from a special Roy Morgan telephone survey conducted in Australia on attitudes towards issues facing Australia and the World in the future. The research conducted was both qualitative (in that people were asked to use their own words) and quantitative (in that the ‘open-ended’ responses were analysed and ‘coded’ so that the results could be counted and reported as percentages).

In Australia, a cross-section of 648 men and women aged 14 or over were interviewed by telephone on the nights of May 22-24, 2017. Respondents were asked: “What do you think is the most important problem facing the World today?” and “What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?”


For further information:

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Michele Levine:

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