A year in review: How we experienced 2020

Some early findings from the Towards COVID Normal survey

Content type
Research snapshot

April 2021


Summing up 2020

All things considered, for my family 2020 was:


Hopes for 2021

Compared to 2020, for my family I expect 2021 will be:


Note: Percentages do not add to 100% as 'Don't know' answers have not been included.

quotation marks - green

 Onwards and upwards for 2021, what a strange year 2020 was! 
Female, age 41

For many, the year brought challenges

People who reported 2020 was a 'bad' or 'very bad' year were more likely to:


There were no significant differences by gender, or whether children lived in the home.

Reflections on the year

While COVID was commonly mentioned by people when they were reflecting on how 2020 had been for their family, many noted that, in fact, COVID wasn't the thing that made their year good or bad.

For some the economic impacts were felt and others were worried about family overseas but a lot of people mentioned other things that made 2020 difficult, like family deaths, relationship breakdowns or the Black Summer bushfires.

For those who reported 2020 was a good year, it was common to mention new babies, new relationships or new homes. Respondents reflected that while 2020 was a difficult or strange year, they were grateful for what they had and knew that others had it much worse.

quotation marks - orange

 Luckily all of us are well, but it's been a stressful year, we haven't been able to see each other, there have been some challenges and important plans had to be put on hold. However, I am grateful we are fine and it seems things are getting better now. 
Female, (no age given)

quotation marks - pink

 2020 we had our first child. And it's the best thing that's happened to us. 
Male, age 32

Participants who rated 2020 as a 'good' or 'very good' year, by age group


Families in Australia - survey branding

Learn more about the Families in Australia Survey

The Families in Australia Survey is AIFS' flagship survey series. Its scope is every person in every type of family, with the survey open to Australians aged 18 years and over.

Towards COVID Normal was our second Families in Australia Survey. The survey ran from 17 November to 22 December 2020, with 4,479 participants.

The first survey in the series was Life during COVID-19, which ran from 1 May to 9 June 2020.