There’s nothing like a national health emergency to bolster public trust in government.
That’s what we’re learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with new survey data indicating Australia’s relatively successful public health response has increased trust in government.
Published last week in the Australian Journal of Public Administration, the latest study was undertaken by professor Shaun Goldfinch at Curtin University and finds about 80% of respondents believe government is ‘generally trustworthy’ compared to 49% in a similar study a decade ago.
The survey parsed the views of 500 people from a nationally representative online panel taken last July.
About three quarters (75%) of those surveyed agreed management of the pandemic had increased their levels of trust in government, while more than 85% said they were confident public health scientists are working in the public interest.
“Because the research was conducted during a global pandemic, the findings may not signal a long‐term change in trust in government, which may return to previous levels when, and if, the crisis passes,” Goldfinch said of the research.
“Regardless, trust in government could be viewed as a ‘reservoir’ that can be drawn upon when needed so that citizens are willing to take what might be unusual and unprecedented actions when their trust is high, including the use of government apps. As such, trust remains key to effective government, particularly during crises.”