“These stats tell us something about the beating heart of Australians”

With ABC's last special in 2019, Australia Talks in 2021 serves as a before & after of how COVID has changed us.

Just how deeply as the pandemic has impacted on Australians will be the under the microscope tonight when Australia Talks screens on the ABC.

Annabel Crabb admits to being sceptical in mounting a second special surveying 60,000 Australians, given the last was only in 2019.

“Opinions don’t change that rapidly,” she tells TV Tonight.

“But then of course COVID happened. What we had was this incredible data set to measure against. In hindsight doing that big survey in 2019 was the greatest baseline we could do to see how this international disruptive event will change a nation of people.”

600 questions were posed to 60,000 Australians in March from every federal electorate in every State and Territory by Canadian-based private company Vox Pop Labs.

They include questions around how Covid has affected our friendships and family; who’s keeping secrets that could end their relationships; who’s having the most sex and even how often Aussies change their sheets?

“It’s at arm’s length from the ABC”

“For those who are worried that it’s myself or Leigh Sales picking out survey results, we have nothing to do with it!” she jokes. “It’s at arm’s length from the ABC. And that sample of 60,000 people is appropriately weighted, so that it is a representative sample. We haven’t relied on data from groups that are too small to quantify, or so on. It’s pretty rigorous.”

Viewers can also log online to complete a selection of questions to see how their own views compare to the wider public.

“I found out that I cried more than 85% of Australians”

“You can find out where you differ from the rest of Australia, which is incredibly interesting. I found out that I cried more than 85% of Australians, which is a pretty tragic,” Crabb continues.

“But the hard core data sample that we are basing all of our reporting on is not those people who are jumping on and filling it out.”

Joining her for the second special is Nazeem Hussain, plus various guests.

“We’ve also got special reporters coming in and doing packages on some of the notable trends.

“It’s 90 minutes of fairly intricate television, having crosses to various parts of Australia, we have a fairly significant interview.

“We have people like Hamish Blake, Tanya Hennessy and Tony Armstrong – a massively popular inclusion, I must say!

“What we’re trying to do is convey information which, when you look at statistics on a page, can be fairly dense.

“These stats tell us something about the beating heart of Australians. Not only the stuff that we think in our secret heart-of-hearts, but some things we probably wouldn’t answer if somebody asked us on the street -like bedroom habits. People are more happy to share as part of a survey, but not face to face.

“So many people think pets are preferable to people!”

“Are pets better than people? Oh my gosh, so many people think pets are preferable to people!”

In July Crabb will also return to ABC with Ms. Represented, a four part series exploring the experience of women in Parliament. She will interview profile politicians who mark a female “first” in Australian politics.

But first she is ready to wade through reams of stats and data, from serious questions to lighter fare.

“We have a little bit of fun with it, because it’s got to be interesting television. But it’ll also tell you something really intriguing about the diversity of views that exist across Australia,” she explains.

“What I like about the project is it reminds us that sometimes our views differ depending on where we live, what we look like, where we came from, our gender, age, religious or cultural beliefs.”

She adds, “So much info….. Delicious!”

Australia Talks airs 8pm tonight on ABC.


3 Responses

  1. i mostly enjoyed this although 2 things i didn’t like were: it was overly long, i think an hour would’ve been enough. And i found it really annoying that they flash on the blurb with the person’s name & location for too short a time to properly read it in imho. They’re not lone offenders in this though, quite a few shows do it & its one of my pet hates

  2. Will be fascinating to see the views of Australians who “completed ABC Vote Compass surveys”. Because that’s where the commissioned research company got all of its respondents – exclusively from the ABC audience. No matter how many “pre- and post-stratification statistical weights” are applied to the data, “Australia Talks” is still only going to reflect the views of the ABC audience and not the general Aussie population. (Quotes are from ABC Australia Talks website).

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