Jim Chalmers has conceded his long-awaited wellbeing budget needs further finetuning following criticism the report used out-of-date data to support some of its findings.

The Treasurer released the first Measuring What Matters report, modelled on similar initiatives in New Zealand, Canada and Germany, on Friday.

It tracks 50 indicators covering health, security, sustainability, cohesiveness and prosperity.

However, the report used old data released before the rapid tightening of interest rates on homeowners, all while declaring homeowners are finding it easier to repay mortgages.

On mental health, the framework’s mental health indicator said Australians’ mental health was “stable”. But the report used data from 2005 and 2018 surveys, well before the pandemic and lockdowns ignited an uptick in people experiencing psychological distress.

Speaking on Friday morning, Dr Chalmers rejected suggestions the report wasn’t up to scratch but acknowledged further iterations required refinement.

“We haven’t had a national wellbeing framework before, this is the first attempt of it. And one of the things that it makes clear is that we need to do collectively a better job of measuring our progress over time,” he told ABC’s RN.

“We know where the gaps in the data are, we know where we need it to be more regular, we know where we need to fill those gaps.”

Opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson said the data was so out of date it “might as well been from the last century”.

But Dr Chalmer’s said the purpose of the report was to look at broader trends over a longer period of time and “refocus” the economic conversation to be about people’s wellbeing.

The report found that in the past two decades, Australians has an improved life expectancy, higher incomes and job satisfaction and people were more accepting of diversity.

But there was a higher number of Australians living with chronic conditions, with some finding it difficult to access health, care and support services.


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By Rahul

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