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Curtin study to explore sense of community in rural towns

Media release

A Curtin University study will explore the links between a “sense of community” in Western Australian rural towns and a range of personality factors of their inhabitants.

The study will help researchers to better understand how people connect to their communities and how to build pathways to strengthen those connections.

Researcher Kath Boekamp, from the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, said her work would build on research that had found links between towns with a strong sense of community and good mental health of residents.

“The core of this study is an examination of personality factors, such as optimism and extraversion, among residents and how these contribute to the development of a sense of community,” Ms Boekamp said.

“Most people know when they have a sense of community and when they don’t. I want to understand how that sense of community develops.”

Study supervisor Dr Peta Dzidic said the research was particularly important at a time when rural and remote communities in WA faced increasing pressures.

“People in rural communities are experiencing periods of considerable change due to unstable economic markets, changing populations and environmental changes all contributing to making life in the bush more challenging,” Dr Dzidic said.

“Some towns are growing, others stagnating or experiencing population decline, which are all scenarios that impact on residents’ overall wellbeing.

“The experience of community is an important buffer in helping people adjust to change.

“As researchers and ‘City Folk’, we can learn a lot from rural community members.”

Ms Boekamp is initially focussing her research on Northam, Narrogin, Merredin, Wongan Hills, Collie and Bridgetown, but she would like to hear from anyone aged over 18, and not just those living in a rural or remote community.

Volunteers are asked to complete an online, with a chance to win a $50 iTunes voucher.

People interested in participating can find further general information on the study and a link to the survey at http://psych.curtin.edu.au/research/phd/psocinfo.cfm

For more information on the research and how its results will be used, please contact Kath Boekamp on 0414 266 151 or Kath.Boekamp@postgrad.curtin.edu.au.

Contact:

Dr Peta Dzidic, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 7842, Email: peta.dzidic@curtin.edu.au

Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9085, Mobile: 0401 103 877, Email: k.jones@curtin.edu.au

Web: http://curtin.edu.au