Loving life in South Australia

There is a positive vibe in South Australia as restrictions are reduced, with an increased sense of pride in the State and performance especially our wonderful lifestyle. Nervousness surrounds the performance of our economy, yet less so than five years ago.

According to a representative survey of 400 South Australians conducted by Square Holes at the end of May, 76% rated the their ‘sense of pride in Adelaide’ as 7-10 out of 10, up from 65% when an identical survey was conducted in July 2015.

In 2015 the average rating was 6.7 out of 10 across the survey sample, increasing to 7.5 in 2020. Older South Australians have a stronger sense of pride to others, yet there is a consistently high level irrespective of age. 

Similarly, 65% gave South Australia an agreement rating of 7-10 out of 10 for ‘Adelaide has a positive self-identity,’ with the level only 36% in 2015 when previously recorded. South Australians aged 65+ again gave the highest average ratings for the State’s self-identity. In 2015 the average rating was 5.3 and now it is 6.9. There is an improved vibe across age groups.

Only 9% rated South Australia’s positive self-identity below 5, with the highest percent of low ratings from 50-64 year olds (19% compared with 9% overall, 5% of 18-34 year olds and 2% of 65+ year olds). Regional South Australians are more positive than those living in metropolitan Adelaide (3% of regional South Australians gave a rating of less than 5, 11% in metropolitan Adelaide).

Ratings of South Australia against 15 aspects of our State also illustrates strong improvement in mood since 2015. South Australian’s top performing areas, all experiencing strong performance are …

  1. Food and drink (increasing from average of 7.0 in 2015 out of 10 to 7.5 in 2020)
  2. Natural environment (increasing from 6.8 in 2015 to 7.4 in 2020)
  3. Arts (increasing from 6.6 in 2015 to 7.1 in 2020)
  4. Health (increasing from 5.6 in 2015 to 7.1 in 2020)
  5. Culture (increasing from 6.3 in 2015 to 7.1 in 2020)

While there is perceived improvement across the board, there are continued weaknesses, yet the view that South Australia is heading in the right direction.

The five weakest performing areas in 2020 are …

  1. Employment (increasing from 4.5 in 2015 to 5.3 in 2020)
  2. Economy (increasing from 4.6 in 2015 to 5.9 in 2020)
  3. Cost of living (increasing from 5.8 in 2015 to 6.2 in 2020)
  4. Infrastructure (increasing from 5.5 in 2015 to 6.4 in 2020)
  5. Industriousness (increasing from 5.0 in 2015 to 6.5 in 2020)

As noted in the table below, South Australians aged 65+ rate South Australia consistently higher than other age groups. The lowest ratings for employment, the economy and cost of living are from 50-64 year olds. 

Ratings from males and females were generally consistent, and regional South Australians provided higher ratings, with sport the only rating lower in regional areas than metropolitan Adelaide (6.6 vs 7.0). Interestingly, the strongest areas in regional South Australia compared with metropolitan Adelaide are culture (7.6 regional SA vs 6.9), food and drink (7.9 vs 7.3), infrastructure (6.8 vs 6.3) and the economy (6.4 vs 5.8). 

It is pleasing that South Australians are feeling positive about South Australia, particularly compared with 2015. The general population historically have higher approval ratings for their governments in challenging times such as those the world has recently being travelling through during COVID 19. From Square Holes’ research over recent months, the Government is viewed as generally performing well over the past few months This largely comes from comparing how well Australia is emerging from COVID-19 compared to the rest of the world.

“I haven’t normally liked the government, but I think they are doing a really good job under the circumstances. When you look around the world on how other countries have dealt with the virus, I think we’re the lucky country as far as that goes.”


The South Australian Government received particularly strong praise from Square Holes’ local research participants.

“I think South Australia as a state is doing really well… I think that they have tried to facilitate people’s needs as much as possible.”


As the restrictions have come down in South Australia, the community is rejoicing in the State’s wonderful food, culture and natural environment. Fears remain as to how the fragile South Australian economy will cope, and the need to bolster this moving forward. As will be explored in next week’s mind and mood update, there is an increasing focus on supporting local businesses, yet factors such as price and difficulties in finding good local products mean the default continues to be otherwise even with the best intentions.

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