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The social issues Aussies care most about and how you can help

In Business and Environment, Politics, Social Development and Justice by Ben KingLeave a Comment

Research shows Aussies are passionate about mental health and climate change. This article explores the nature of these issues, and steps you can take to help.

We’re living in an age where consumers expect government and businesses to make a stand on social issues, and to do things for the greater good, beyond their bottom line.

Following months of unprecedented bushfires and smoke, the recent rallies against inaction on climate change showed that Australians (and Australian businesses) aren’t afraid to speak up on issues that matter to them.

But with so many social issues present in Australia it’s important for businesses to identify the causes that matter most to Australians. To understand this better, we asked Australians what the most important causes are to them personally. The research revealed that mental health (41%) and climate change (35%) are the two most important social issues to the Australian population.

The good news is that these are two issues that Australians can have a positive impact on and in this article we’ll cover the size of the issue and what you can do to help.

MENTAL HEALTH:

How big is the issue?

The Australians for Mental Health organisation (2019) reports there are 4 million Australians affected by mental health, with eight people taking their own life every day. The total cost to society in terms of health and societal costs associated with helping people with mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and substance abuse is enormous.

What can you do to help?

This is one of those social issues that might be closer to home than you think. Mental health can impact anyone – even people who look like they’re thriving on the outside. One of the best things you can do is to simply start a conversation on the topic with your loved ones, friends and colleagues. There is a stigma around the topic and we’re all responsible for breaking this down. If you don’t know where to start then mental health charity Beyond Blue has some great resources on its website to help you start a conversation on mental health.

There are also plenty of other organisations that you can support in this space, through a donation or volunteering your time. Look out for charities like Headspace, RUOK?, Lifeline and the Black Dog Institute that all have varied but impactful initiatives to tackle mental health issues. For instance, RUOK? has recently launched RUOK Mate which is available through Google Assistant. It helps people better prepare for conversations around mental health. If you’d rather commit a chunk of your time to the issue then it’s worth speaking to Lifeline which is always on the lookout for volunteers to train up to answer calls on their 24-hour suicide support line.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

How big is the issue?

The recent bushfires are just one example of the impact that climate change can have. Scientific consensus is solidifying on the topic with 97% of scientists believing that humans are causing global warming and climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. If global emissions continue to grow as they are today, the world is expected to be between 4.1°C and 4.8°C warmer by the end of the century than it was before the industrial revolution.

On this trajectory, in the coming decades we can expect to see serious droughts, regular heat waves and rising sea levels. This could lead to mass migration, breakdown in the global food supply chain and increasing damage from natural disasters like bushfires. No wonder this is an issue that Australians are passionate about.

What can you do to help?

Again the good news is there are lots of things you can do to help tackle this issue. At an individual level you can reduce your personal carbon footprint. There are lots of ways to do this. Some of the most impactful are:

  • reducing your meat consumption
  • avoiding unnecessary flights
  • switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle

You can also vote with your wallet on these social issues

There are lots of businesses in Australia doing great work to tackle climate change – so support them with your dollars. Why not switch to an ethical super fund that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels? Or why not find an energy retailer that offers GreenPower which supports renewable energy in Australia? There are even insurers in Australia that will offset the impact of driving your car. If you want more inspiration then look at a campaign called Not Business as Usual Campaign launched by Future Super. This is a coalition of businesses committed to taking action on climate change with lots of big Australians signing up including Atlassian, KeepCup, Energy Lab, Finder and more. You can view the list to see which companies care about this topic.

And if you own a business or have influence in your place of work, there are lots of ways to be more sustainable as a company. This could mean opting for energy-efficient lighting. Perhaps improving the recycling options in your office. Phasing out plastics such as cups and straws. Maybe going paperless, or choosing a sustainable coffee provider. The great news is lots of the initiatives will save you money as well as helping to save the planet!

Mental health and climate change are two major issues that face not only Australians but people all around the world. While these issues could have a drastic impact on our communities, there are many ways that both consumers and businesses can drive positive change. Whether it’s volunteering your time or making small changes around the home or office, even the smallest of changes can have a big impact.

About the author

Ben King

Ben King, CSR Manager & Sustainability Expert at Finder. Ben is Finder’s corporate social responsibility manager and is currently based in the Sydney office. Before joining Finder he worked for a sustainability consultancy in London with some of the biggest companies in the UK including Virgin Media, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Coca-Cola.

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