Greens plan for first-of-its-kind measure of community happiness and wellbeing in NSW

In the lead-up to the NSW Budget, the Greens have given notice of laws establishing indicators that will for the first time measure and promote the wellbeing of people, communities and nature across the state.

The Wellbeing Indicators Bill will create a framework to develop and measure the performance of Government in growing the wellbeing of the community alongside the economic performance of the state.

The Greens’ Wellbeing Indicators Bill will:

  • establish an independent Commissioner of Wellbeing, with independent statutory office;
  • form a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Wellbeing to conduct a public inquiry into the factors and measures of wellbeing;
  • introduce a regular Wellbeing of the State report;
  • require State Government and public service to consider wellbeing as a factor in policy and decision making; and
  • require annual reports of departments and statutory bodies to address wellbeing indicators directly relevant to their activities.

Greens Treasury spokesperson Justin Field said traditional budgets were about balancing the books, but it was time for a deeper exploration of whether we had the balance right to make life better and happier for people and communities.

“We short-change our community if the NSW Budget is evaluated in dollars and cents alone. The true measure of a budget should be whether it delivers good in people’s lives, reduces inequality and improves the health of our environment,” he said.

“New Zealand has recently established its Living Standards Framework and has announced its 2019 budget will be a “Wellbeing Budget”, for the first time. The UK, Scotland and Canada are also moving towards alternative indicators to guide decision making. 

“A set of Wellbeing Indicators will provide a richer picture of community life and happiness across the state.

“It’s opportunity to chart a different course, to make politics relevant to people and ensure the economy is serving the needs of the public.

“There will be genuine community participation to determine what we as people and community value and want to measure as success in NSW.

“We’re living longer but do we have the resources and social networks for quality of life in our later years? Are we setting up our children with the best possible health and education in early life? Are we learning the lessons of historical injustices to Indigenous Australians and ensuring we correct them?

“Do we enjoy freedom and leisure time or are our waking hours consumed with the struggle to make ends meet? Are we responding to climate risks and protecting our clean air and water or allowing fossil fuel developments to degrade these environmental assets?

“The insights provided by this new wellbeing index can transform government decision making and our planning for the future. It will help evaluate the effectiveness of the economy and budget to deliver a better life for people and communities, with no one left behind,” Mr Field said.

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