Australians have named the top ten most significant historical events that have shaped the nation in their lifetimes, in a report released today by the Social Research Centre.

The first of its kind in Australia, The Life in Australia Historic Events Survey asked Australians (18-93 years) to nominate events in their lifetime they felt have had the greatest impact on the country.

Participants of the survey were drawn from the country’s most methodologically rigorous online panel, the Life in Australia panel, and are reflective of the broader Australian population.

According to the survey, the top ten most significant historic moments that have had the greatest impact on Australia are:

1. Same-sex marriage, 2017 – named by 30% of survey participants
2. 9/11, 2001 – 27%
3. Apology to Indigenous Australians, 2008 – 13%
4. Port Arthur Massacre, 1996 – 13%
5. 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2000 – 12%
6. Sacking of the Whitlam Government, 1975 – 12%
7. Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war, 1962-1973 – 11%
8. Moon landing, July 1969 – 9%
9. The Internet / Worldwide Web, 1989 – 9%.
10. Three equal responses:


  • America’s Cup win, 1983 – 8%
  • Global Financial Crisis, 2008 – 8%
  • First female prime minister, 2010-2013 – 8%


Same-sex marriage (13%) followed by the Sydney Olympics (10%) topped the list of times or events when Australians felt most proud of their country. Coming in third was the 1983 Americas Cup win (7%).

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers (8%) is what has left Australians feeling the most disappointed in their country.

The Social Research Centre CEO, Darren Pennay said the results show common threads of shared history that bind generations of Australians together.

“We are undoubtedly living through turbulent times both domestically and internationally, and the results show a keen interest in matters both here and abroad,” Mr Pennay said.

 “Human rights issues, terrorism, Australian politics and war were the most recurrent themes in participant responses across all age groups. These similar responses paint a picture of Australian values that transcend generational gaps.”

“As we approach Australia Day 2018, it is also striking that Indigenous issues such as the Apology, the Mabo decision and the 1967 Aboriginal referendum continue to resonate in our collective memory (mentioned by 24%) as do immigration-related events such as the refugee crisis and offshore detention centres, mentioned by 14 percent of participants,” he said.

Responses varied depending on the gender of participants, with males ranking 9/11 as the most significant event (27%), and females more likely to mention same-sex marriage (35%).

The Life in Australia panel is the first national online panel in Australia to be recruited and maintained using probability-based sampling methods, meaning the results are reflective of the entire population – which isn’t possible in surveys using non-probability methods.

See the full results and insights from the study at