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Curtin study on rising long distance commuting populations

Media release

Curtin University researchers are seeking people living in Mandurah and the surrounding area to take part in a study on the impact of long distance commuting (LDC) on communities.

Professor Fiona McKenzie and Dr Aileen Hoath from Curtin’s Graduate School of Business (CGSB) are researching the needs of communities with a significant LDC population in the Peel and South West region.

As part of their research, they have been conducting in-depth interviews with service providers in the area, LDC workers and their spouses to identify key issues.

They are now running an online survey which is open to adults over 18 years, who work on an LDC basis in the mining or oil and gas industries, or have done so during the past two years.

The survey is also open to the wives, husbands and partners of LDC workers (which includes drive-in drive-out (DIDO) and bus-in bus-out (BIBO) 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, and to identify the particular needs of involved communities.

Dr Hoath said that with the opportunity to earn higher incomes in the mining and oil and gas industries, LDC had become an important part of the economic and social fabric of many towns and communities in the Peel region.

“Some have turned to LDC in order to maintain their current lifestyle, as local employment opportunities in other industries contract. Others already working on an LDC basis are attracted to the relaxed coastal lifestyle the area offers,” Dr Hoath said.

Dr Hoath explained that 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 ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia also made it clear that regional planners, local governments and service providers in regional centres are anxious to have a better understanding of the changing workforce dynamics and associated social change within their jurisdictions in order to plan better – and good planning depends on good information,” Dr Hoath said.

Access the Mandurah LDC survey

This research is funded by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Sports and Arts and has been approved by the Curtin University Human Ethics Research Committee (approval number GSB 14-12). A final report will be prepared in July 2013.