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Curtin study on growing long distance commuting populations

Media release

Curtin University researchers are seeking participants living in Western Australia’s South West for a study on the impact of long distance commuting (LDC), drive-in drive-out (DIDO) or bus-in bus-out (BIBO) has on communities.

Professor Fiona McKenzie and Dr Aileen Hoath, from the Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB), have been researching the needs of communities in WA’s South West with a significant LDC population. Their research is being funded by the Commonwealth Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sports.

As part of their research, they conducted a number of in-depth interviews in 2012 in the Busselton, Augusta and Margaret River area with service providers, LDC workers and their spouses to identify key issues.

They are now running an online survey, which can be found at:

The survey is open to LDC workers in the mining or oil and gas industries who live in the shires of Busselton and Augusta-Margaret River, who live nearby and depart for their workplace from Busselton Regional airport, or have done so during the past two years. The survey is also open for the husbands, wives and partners of LDC workers. Survey participants are not required to reveal their personal identity.

The data collected will be used to map the extent, distribution, mobility, and socio-economic characteristics of LDC workers and families in the lower south west, and to identify the needs of those communities.

A similar survey will soon be open to LDC mining or oil and gas industry workers living in the Mandurah area.

Dr Hoath said LDC had become an important part of the economic and social fabric of many towns and communities in the south west of WA.

“Many residents have been attracted to LDC in the mining and oil and gas industries by the opportunity to earn a higher income,” Dr Hoath said.

“Some have turned to LDC in order to maintain their current lifestyle in the south west as local employment opportunities in other industries contract.”

She said despite those benefits, LDC work arrangements, with their long shifts and extended periods away, placed considerable stresses and demands on workers, their families and communities.

“Submissions to the recent Commonwealth Inquiry into the use of ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia, also made it clear that regional planners, local governments and service providers in a number of south west centres are anxious to have a better understanding of the changing workforce dynamics and associated social change within their jurisdictions. Good planning depends on good information.”

A final report will be prepared in June 2013.


Dr Aileen Hoath, Curtin Graduate School of Business, Curtin University
08 9266 1175  Email:

April Kleer, Public Relations, Curtin University
08 9266 3353  Mobile: 0401 103 018
Twitter: @CurtinPR