The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust across all Australian institutions has reached an all-time high, resulting in significant gains for business (+11 points), government (+17 points), NGOs (+8 points) and media (+12 points). At the same time, Australia’s composite trust index recorded the largest gain globally (+12 points) among the 28 countries surveyed.
Despite this, Australia for the second year running has the largest trust inequality gap on record globally, with a 22 point difference between the informed public (77 points) and the mass population (55 points).
All-time highs in trust across all Australian Institutions
All institutions seen as ethical and trending towards competent territory
All institutions are now perceived as ethical, and are trending towards 'competent' territory, with business and NGPs the only institutions seen as both competent and ethical. this is a stark shift from last year's results which found no institution to be ethical and competent. Business has emerged as the institute on regarded as the most competent, holding a 30-point lead over government and 12 points over NGOs. NGOs are seen as the most ethical institution leading by 7 points over business and government, and 13 points over media.
Trust increases in all sectors but technology
The national increase in trust has also been felt across all industry sectors, with the exception of technology. Healthcare (+9 points), energy (+8 points), telecommunications (+7 points) and financial services (+7 points) have recorded the highest growth of trust compared to the technology sector which fell by 5 points.
Climate change is a greater concern than contracting Covid-19
Australians are more concerned about the environment compared to contracting Covid-19 themselves; 66% of Australians are concerned about climate change and 36% are fearful, sitting ahead of concerns over contracting Covid-19 at 54%.
'My Employer' emerges as a crucial trust bond
Employers are now seen as one of the most trusted institutions in Australia, with 78% trusting their employer over business generally (63%), government (61%) and media (51%). Among respondents in Australia, employer attributes including: keeping workers safe (+45 points), regular employee communications (+44 points), job skills and training programs (+39 points) and offering a diverse representative workforce (+32 points) saw increases in importance in the last year. 'My employer' is the second most believable source of information, after government.
Declaring information bankruptcy
Despite modest gains, Australian media continues to lag other institutions by double-digit figures; with no one media information source seen as trusted. Traditional media (-3 points) and search engines (-1 point) have continued to fall, while owned channels and social media have jumped 5 and 9 points respectively.
Australians are recognising they need to take more personal responsibility for their own information diet; being politically aware (+33 points), increasing media and information literacy (+30 points) and increasing science literacy (+23 points) jumping in importance. However, less than 1 in 4 Australians practice good hygiene - meaning the do engage with multiple sources, they avoid information echo chambers, verify information they're consuming, and vet before content sharing.
Trust, is ours to lose
Behind scientists and tied with people in my local community, My employer CEO is the second most trusted societal leader and will need to continue to do the right thing and step up to heir new role in order to preserve their newfound trust. 66% of Australians agree CEOs should step in when the government doesn't fix societal problems and 72% believe CEOs should act first rather than waiting for the government to enact change.