Violence behind mining boom revealed
The mining boom has a dark, violent underbelly which some regional communities are struggling to combat, a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study has found.
QUT’s head of Justice Professor Kerry Carrington is calling for mining companies and contractors to help solve the crisis, after her study found alcohol-fuelled violence and social disorder were rife in some regional communities located alongside large populations of mine and construction workers housed in camps.
She found these communities were more than twice as violent as the state average, and did not have the resources to cope. Researchers went to towns suffering high rates of violence to speak with police, courts, magistrates, health workers and community leaders.
They discovered most of these communities had neighbouring work camps accommodating a rotating roster of hundreds, even thousands, of non-resident “fly-in/fly-out” mining workers who arrived from other parts of the country to work 12-hour shifts for up to 14 consecutive days or more.
“Work camps have a profound impact upon the patterns of violence in host communities,” Professor Carrington said.
“The communities are ill-equipped to deal with this. Regional and remote areas are under-resourced, lacking enough police, medical facilities and other emergency and human services. There’s a real urgency to address these problems.”
“The mining boom is great for job growth, but the dark underlying fact is these practices contribute little to local economies and have serious criminological and social impacts for residents and affected communities, ultimately at the expense of the nation,” she said
She said current numbers of fly-in/fly-out workers included an estimated 12,228 temporary workers housed in camps in Central Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
Future numbers will include at least 43,000 additional temporary workers for 81 new mining projects being considered for South Queensland’s Surat Basin and an estimated increase of 5250 fly-in/fly-out workers by mid-2015 for new mine developments in Central Queensland’s Central Galilee Basin.