Subjective Wellbeing

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Indicator Rationale

Quality of life measures the fit between a person’s hopes and expectations and their present experience.  Objective quality of life is about fulfilling the societal and cultural demands for material wealth, social status and physical well being, whereas subjective quality of life is about feeling good and being satisfied with things in general. The overall quality of life reflects the difference, that is, the gap between the hopes and expectations of a person and their present experience. 

Please refer to the Subjective Wellbeing Evaluation Toolkit developed by Dr Melanie Davern for more information.

The theoretical framework for the interpretation of data is the theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis. This proposes that each person has a ‘set-point’ for personal wellbeing that is internally maintained and defended. This set-point is genetically determined and, on average, causes personal wellbeing to be held at 75 points on a 0-100 scale.

Data Source 

VicHealth Indicator Survey 2011

Community Indicators Victoria Survey 2007


Australian Unity Personal Wellbeing Index: completely dissatisfied = 0; completely satisfied = 100.

All data have been standardized to a 0-100 range. Thus, the magnitude of group differences is referred to in terms of percentage points.

A small number of survey respondents (less than 5% of the weighted survey estimates across Victoria) didn't know or refused to answer at least one of the applicable survey questions.  Rates of non-response across LGAs ranged from 1.6% to 8.9%.

The Index includes seven domains: standard of living; health; achievements in life; community connection; personal relationships; safety; and future security. The average score of all seven domains is combined into a Personal Wellbeing Index score and converted into a scale maximum score with a range of 0-100.

Normative data from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index indicates that the average Personal Wellbeing Index for Australians is approximately 75.

Please refer to the Subjective Wellbeing Evaluation Toolkit for more information.

Survey Questions

QA1a.  Thinking about your own life and your personal circumstances, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole?  Please use a scale from 0-10, where 0 is completely dissatisfied and 10 is completely satisfied.

QA1b.  Turning now to various areas of your life... How satisfied are you with your standard of living?

QA1c.  … with your health?

QA1d.  … with what you are currently achieving in life?

QA1e.  … with your personal relationships?

QA1f.  … with how safe you feel?

QA1g.  … with feeling part of your community?

QA1h.  … with your future security?

Source of Question

Australian Unity Wellbeing Index


Cummins, R. A., Eckersley, R., Pallant, J., Van Vugt, J., Misajon, R. (2003). Developing a National Index of Subjective Wellbeing: The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. Social Indicators Research, 64, 159 – 190.