Lowy Institute Poll: All this talk of terrorism is making Australians feel very unsafe

Shia militia support Iraqi Army troops as they assault ISIL fighters in Anbar Province, Iraq. John Moore/Getty Images

Australians are feeling unsafe because of the threat from terrorism and are less optimistic about the economy than at any time in the last decade, says the Lowy Institute Poll.

The annual survey of 1,200 people says fewer than one in four (24%) adults feel “very safe” in 2015, 18 points down from the 42% when the question was asked in 2010.

The threat of terrorism appears to be the main cause, as this chart shows:

Source: Lowy Institute

From a list of eight potential risks to Australia’s security in the next 10 years, risks relating to terrorism rank first, second and third in perceptions of national security.

The highest-ranked is “the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”, with 69% of Australians rating this as a high risk to their security.

In results consistent with 2014 findings on potential threats to Australia’s vital interests, “a cyber attack on Australian critical infrastructure” is ranked relatively highly as a risk (45%).

Younger Australians (18-29) are far less wary of the cyber threat. Only 26% see it as high risk, compared with 50% of those aged over 30.

On the economy, 63% of Australians are either optimistic (54%) or very optimistic (9%) about the nation’s economic performance in the world over the next five years.

This is a fall of 13 points since the question was asked in 2013, and 23 points lower than the peaks of 86% recorded in 2009 and 2010 at the height of the global economic crisis.

It is the single largest fall in optimism recorded by the poll since 2005.

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