The kindest places to live in Australia
Exclusive: Australians are getting kinder - but we will do it our own way.
With shoppers wrestling over toilet paper, commuters deliberately coughing on each other on public transport and online trolling now standard, you would be forgiven for thinking the world is a cruel and heartless place.
But a new Red Cross survey shows Australians are more generous than ever with random acts of kindness on the rise and 95 per cent of Australians performing at least one act of kindness in the past year, compared to 81 per cent just two years ago.
Across the country, Adelaide is generally the kindest place to live, Sydneysiders make the best neighbours, Brisbane are generous when it comes to giving up their time and Melbourne and Perth people are the most empathetic.
Overall, volunteering is down, with only 38 per cent giving up their time compared to 45 per cent in 2017 but total acts of kindness have increased - now 74 per cent of people are donating clothes or goods, 66 per cent engage in random acts of kindness and 59 per cent donate money.
Adelaide is the kindest place to live with 93 per cent of people thinking Australia would be a better place if we all did one kind thing every day - like helping friends, family or work mates - but nearly 20 per cent of Sydneysiders don't agree.
Annie Evans is a Red Cross volunteer, who helps people trace overseas relatives and spent more than three decades in Sydney before moving back to her hometown of Adelaide.
She isn't surprised by the findings.
"People here are very orientated to giving back, they are helpful, they like to do things for others. They are more courteous and caring and they are interested, they will give you the time of day. Sydney people are just not like that. It is a lot more impersonal," she said.
"Sydney is a harder place to live. It is costly and tiresome just to get around."
But while Sydneysiders are more cynical about making the world a kinder place - they also make the best neighbours with the Harbour City leading the country when it comes to people engaged in their community (40 per cent).
Melbourne and Brisbane are not far behind (39 per cent) followed by Perth, (35 per cent) trailed by Adelaide (34 per cent).
And if you need someone to advocate for you seek out a Sydneysider with 17 per cent of people surveyed having lobbied to help someone in need, compared to 15 per cent in Melbourne and Brisbane, 14 per cent in Adelaide and 10 per cent in Perth.
People from Brisbane are the most generous when it comes to volunteering (44 per cent) and Melbourne was the least likely (34 per cent) to want to give up their time.
But residents from Melbourne and Perth are the most empathetic with 28 per cent of people wanting to do more to help vulnerable people.
People from Adelaide said they would like to do more when it comes to helping elderly neighbours or assisting migrants settle into Australia. Perth and Brisbane weren't so sure with only about 50 per cent agreeing.
With research showing that fostering acts of kindness and empathy in small children helps reduce bullying and encourages better educational outcomes, an increasing number of childcares and schools are adopting the kindness movement; some schools now implement Friendship Fridays - where students write nice notes to each other, and others are now asking children to do one deliberate act of kindness a day.
"Using acts of kindness in schools is an access point to increase empathy and we know when children have higher rates of empathy they have lower rates of bullying, depression and anxiety," said Kindness on Purpose founder Katrina Cavanough, who works with schools to encourage kindness.
Red Cross's Judy Slatyer, Chief Executive Officer said the survey shows Australians want to make their country a better place.
"Australians really care about the people in their communities. It is heartening that nearly three out of five of us (58 per cent) would like to do more to help in our local communities. We need to create more opportunities to be involved as less than two out of five (39 per cent) are actively engaged in their local community."