March 30, 2020

Nearly nine-in-ten Australians (85%) think the ‘worst is yet to come’ over the next month in regards to COVID-19

Topic: Press Release, Public Opinion, Special Poll
Finding No: 8359
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Nearly nine-in-ten Australians (85%) say the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month in regards to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic; however only 43% of Australians agree that the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well according to a special Roy Morgan web survey of an Australia-wide cross-section of 988 Australians aged 18+ conducted over the weekend of March 28-29, 2020.

Australians are more pessimistic than their counterparts in the UK with 82% of Britons answering that the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month. While only 43% of Australians agree the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well, the re in the UK is slightly higher at 49%.

Interviewing in the UK was conducted on the prior weekend of March 18-20, 2020 with a UK-wide cross-section of 2,094 respondents aged 18+ by the London-based ORB International which is the UK Member of the Gallup International Association and affiliated with Roy Morgan. 

It is important to compare the Australian and United Kingdom results as both countries are facing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which poses a threat to livelihoods. Australia and the UK share a similar culture so these questions will be repeated in both Australia and the UK over the coming weeks.

Australians, and Britons, were asked a series of six questions to determine their views regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world including both Australia and the United Kingdom: The first five questions were on a five point scale with strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree and don’t know the available responses.

  • Question 1: “I am afraid that either myself or someone in my family may actually catch the Coronavirus?”
  • Question 2: “I think the Australian/UK Government is handling the Coronavirus well?”
  • Question 3: “I believe the threat from the Coronavirus is exaggerated?”
  • Question 4: “I am willing to sacrifice some of my human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the virus?”
  • Question 5: “If a new Coronavirus vaccine became publicly available, I would be willing to be vaccinated?”

The final question was posed as a choice between three outcomes. People surveyed were asked: “When thinking about the Coronavirus here in Australia/the UK which of the following do you think is most likely to happen over the next month. Either the ‘Worst is yet to come’, the ‘Situation will remain the same’ or ‘Things will begin to improve’.”

The survey was conducted before Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Sunday evening talk to the nation creating a new two-person rule on gatherings and further financial help for people losing their jobs.

More Women than men are afraid they or someone in their family may catch coronavirus

Three-quarters of Australians (75%) are afraid that they or someone in their family may actually catch the Coronavirus compared to a slightly higher 78% of Britons.

Just over a quarter of Australians (26%) strongly agree they are afraid they or someone in their family may actually catch the Coronavirus and an additional 49% agree. In contrast only 2% strongly disagree and a further 17% disagree.

Nearly four-fifths of Women (79%) agree they are afraid they or someone in their family may actually catch the Coronavirus compared to 71% of men. In terms of age agreement is highest amongst those aged under 25 (80%) and aged 50-64 years old (80%).

Britons are happier with the Government’s handling of Coronavirus than Australians

Only 43% of Australians agree that the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well compared to 49% of Britons. Of Australians that agree the Government is handling the Coronavirus well only 9% strongly agree while a further 34% disagree.

In contrast a total of 49% of Australians disagree that the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well compared to only 37% of Britons. One-in-six Australians (16%) strongly disagree the Australian Government is handling Coronavirus well and a further 33% disagree.

Women (45%) are slightly more likely than men (42%) to agree the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well and support for the Government’s handling of the pandemic is strongly correlated to age.

Only 33% of those aged under 25 or 25-34 agree the Government is handling the Coronavirus well compared to 41% of 35-49 year olds, 49% of 50-64 year olds and a majority of 59% of those aged 65+.

Analysis by State reveals that those in Tasmania (56%) and Western Australia (53%) are the most likely to agree the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well.

The biggest deficit is in New South Wales in which only 38% say the Australian Government is handling Coronavirus well compared to a majority of 55% who say disagree.

Men are more likely than Women to agree the threat from Coronavirus is exaggerated

Only 15% of Australians agree that the threat from Coronavirus is exaggerated. This is significantly lower than the 26% of Britons who agree with this statement.

Analysis by Gender reveals that a fifth of men (20%) compared only 10% of Women agree that the threat from Coronavirus is exaggerated.

Interestingly, only 5% of those aged under 25 agree the threat from Coronavirus is exaggerated – far lower than any other age group. Those aged 25-34 are the most skeptical with 25% agreeing the threat is exaggerated, almost double all three older age groups.

Analysis by State reveals that respondents in Western Australia (23%) and Queensland (21%) are the most likely to agree the threat from Coronavirus is exaggerated. The least likely to agree are respondents in Victoria (11%), Tasmania (11%) and New South Wales (12%).

Australians are more likely than Britons to willingly sacrifice their human rights

Four-in-five Australians (80%) agree they are willing to sacrifice some of their human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the Coronavirus compared to only 72% of Britons.

Women (81%) are slightly more likely than men (79%) to agree they would willingly sacrifice their human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Analysis by Age shows that it is the youngest, and oldest Australians who would be most willing to sacrifice some of their human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Super majorities of 85% of those aged 65+ and 84% of those aged under 25 say they would be willing to sacrifice their human rights if it helped prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

Analysis by State reveals that respondents in Victoria (82%), Queensland (82%) and South Australia (82%) are the most willing to sacrifice their human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. The least likely to willingly sacrifice their human rights are Tasmanians (73%).

More Australians are willing to be vaccinated for Coronavirus (COVID-19) than Britons

A large majority of 86% of Australians say they are willing to be vaccinated for Coronavirus (COVID-19) if a new vaccine became publicly available compared to 77% of Britons.

Analysis by Gender reveals little difference between Women (86%) and men (85%) on willingness to be vaccinated. Young Australians aged under 25 (93%) and those aged 65+ (92%) are clearly the most willing to be vaccinated for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Analysis on a State-based level shows 97% of Tasmanians are willing to be vaccinated for Coronavirus (COVID-19) if a vaccine became publicly available compared to 91% of South Australians. Queenslanders (83%) are the least likely to agree to be vaccinated just behind respondents from Western Australia (84%).

Australians are incredibly pessimistic about Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the next month

A large majority of 85% of Australians say that the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month when it comes to Coronavirus compared to only 11% who say the ‘Situation will remain the same’ and even fewer, 4%, who say ‘Things will begin to improve’.

Analysis by Gender reveals 88% of Women say that the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month compared to 82% of men.

Analysis by Age shows that it is those aged 25-34 years old who are the most pessimistic about the next month with 92% saying the ‘Worst is yet to come’ with Coronavirus compared to only 1% saying ‘Things will begin to improve’.

Analysis on a State-based level shows Queenslanders (91%) are the most pessimistic that the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month with regards to Coronavirus. This is followed by respondents in South Australia (88%) and New South Wales (87%).

Only 74% of Tasmanians say the ‘Worst is yet to come’ over the next month in regards to Coronavirus but it is Victorians who are in fact the most optimistic about the next month. Nearly one-in-ten Victorians (9%) say ‘Things will begin to improve’ over the next month in regards to the Coronavirus.

Selected Charts

Question 2: Do you think the UK/Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well – By UK, Australia and Australian States

Source: Roy Morgan web survey of Australians conducted on the weekend of March 28-29, 2020 in Australia, n=988 and UK survey conducted on the weekend of March 18-20, 2020, n=2,094. Base: Australians & British aged 18+.

Question 6: When thinking about the Coronavirus here in the UK/Australia which of the following do you think is most likely to happen over the next month – By UK, Australia and Australian States

Source: Roy Morgan web survey of Australians conducted on the weekend of March 28-29, 2020 in Australia, n=988 and UK survey conducted on the weekend of March 18-20, 2020, n=2,094. Base: Australians & British aged 18+.

Question 1:

I am afraid that either myself or someone in my family may actually catch the Coronavirus – By Gender & Age

I am afraid that either myself or someone in my family may actually catch the Coronavirus – By State

Question 2:

I think the UK/Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well – By Gender & Age

I think the Australian Government is handling the Coronavirus well – By State

Question 3:

I believe the threat from the Coronavirus is exaggerated – By Gender & Age

I believe the threat from the Coronavirus is exaggerated – By State

Question 4:

I am willing to sacrifice some of my human rights if it helps prevent the spread of the virus – By Gender & Age

I am willing to sacrifice some of my human rights if it helps prevent spread of the virus – By State

Question 5:

If a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine became publicly available, I would be willing to be vaccinated – By Gender & Age

If a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine became publicly available, I would be willing to be vaccinated – By State

Question 6:
When thinking about the Coronavirus here in UK/Australia which of the following do you think is most likely to happen over the next month – By Gender & Age

When thinking about the Coronavirus here in UK/Australia which of the following do you think is most likely to happen over the next month – By State

For comments or more information please contact:
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Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309
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Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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