Bowen BasinMining Communities Research Exchange


Bowen Basin Data

OrganisationsResearch Projects



Mining and Community Research Forum

Researchers Workshop

Central Highlands Population Forum

Social and Economic Impacts on Mining Forum

Useful links

Contact us



Researchers Workshop

12th May, 2003

Facilitator: The workshop was facilitated by Dr Helen Cheney, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) was established by the University of Technology, Sydney in 1996 to work with industry, government and the community to develop sustainable futures through research, consultancy and training. Sustainable futures result from economic and social development that protects and enhances the environment, human well-being and social equity.


Aims of the Workshop
Research Presentations
Panel and small group discussion

Panel reflections
Small group discussion 
Summary and outcomes of the day
Participants Reflections 


There is a diverse range of social and economic research taking place within the Bowen Basin area of Central Queensland. This research may relate directly to mining, such as impact assessment for particular development proposals, or it may be focused on social issues or trends within mining communities. Discussions between researchers and staff within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet led to a proposal that a workshop be held to find out more about this area of research.

The workshop was coordinated by the Community Engagement Division of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and an invitation was made to researchers involved in current and potential studies of social/economic issues affecting mining dependent or semi-dependent communities in the Bowen Basin. In response many researchers were keen to present their research for discussion. The workshop was well attended by researchers, government personnel and representatives for the mining industry.

The workshop format was more formal in the first part of the day, with researchers providing a brief presentation, followed by questions and discussion. The second part of the day began with a panel giving reflections on the morning and then small groups worked on a number of different themes. Arising from a discussion of future directions for social and economic research in the Bowen Basin the potential for a research network to be developed was identified and agreed upon. There was a need to find ways to share results of research and collaborate on projects.

The potential for funding opportunities was also discussed.

Aims of the Workshop:

Research presentations

A range of research was presented:

Panel and small group discussion

A Panel gave critical reflections and feedback on the presentations including impressions, potential for collaboration and co-operation and identified gaps in social and economic research. The members of the Panel were:

Panel reflections

Mr Roger Wischusen, Manager, Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP):

Ms Lisa Pollard, Principal Policy Officer, Innovation Unit, Department of the Premier and Cabinet:

Mr Keith Barker, Queensland Mining Council :

Professor Bob Miles, Institute for Sustainable Regional Development, Central Queensland University:

Ms Fiona Martin, Office of Regional Development, Department of State Development :

Small group discussion :

In consultation with Workshop participants a number of thematic areas were suggested. The groups were asked to examine four key questions relevant to these themes; what they would take away? links? understandings? and next steps? The following topics were suggested as a starting point for group discussion:

Summary and outcomes of the day:

In addition to the valuable discussion and development of relationships on the day, the most significant outcome from the workshop was the establishment of a Bowen Basin Research Network. A group was formed to coordinate the network and to act on a number of suggestions made by the group. These included the establishment of a website containing details of both past and current relevant research projects and an email list. It was agreed that the network would be informal and focused on research related to the region.

It was also suggested that a second forum be held in order to build on the activity of the "Positive Futures in Mining Communities" held in Moranbah in November 2000. Another suggestion was that an annual planning meeting be held for researchers. Both the forum and future meetings could also be an opportunity for the research network to meet again and continue developing the ideas discussed at this workshop. These included:

A number of significant research gaps were also identified. These include:

Participants Reflections:

In the final exercise all participants provided their reflections and feedback on the day:

Owen Nichols: Companies struggle to decide what are the financial priorities of small communities and it would be appreciated if there were policies or guidelines to assist with these decisions.

Lisa Pollard: Asked to make a time to meet for the network group.

Stewart Lockie: Felt the work discussed today has been beneficial to make sure the research is used.

John Merritt: How to take it forward from today to include ACARP?

Janet Benson: Good connections, which will be further developed through the website. One cannot work in isolation and there is a need to connect and form partnerships.

Stephen Schwarten: Hopes that all participants keep the commitments made at this forum and he will continue to liaise with local government and the community in the region.

Lynda Herbert-Cheshire: Positive.

Patrick Noonan: Positive.

Helen Waite: Really worthwhile, new opportunities, new problems to address and let's get started.

Susan Rees: Positive and has learnt a lot which will enhance her research.

Ross Barker: Need to work collaboratively.

Alison Taylor: Echo Stewart's view. It is always good to have people appreciate what you (PIFU) do and the importance of it confirmed and the need for a wider audience to be given the information as well. Would like to see a repeat forum like Moranbah. I am now convinced that this research is very important.

Roger Wischusen: Emphasised the strength of this work and liked the breakdown of isolated positions and the sharing of views that occurred during the day.

John Morris: Fantastic, will be in touch with John (ACARP) and will work closer with the whole of this group and the community in this region.

Rhys Worrall: Great enthusiasm and looks forward to the network being established.

Jim Grundy: Useful exercise, from this, it can only get stronger.

Gail Kelly: Looking forward to reflecting on the similarities of the issues raised. The desire and the need to work more closely.

Fiona Solomon: Quality of the discussion has been so good. The outcomes have been excellent.

Evie Katz: Gained a lot as not a local. Relieved to see they are not duplicating and looks forward to sharing information.

Bill Higham: The region warrants this attention. . The challenges are to pick up this amazing amount of work, to look at it and apply it. Progress this and continue with it. Looking for the project team to progress on behalf of everybody.

Frank Gilbert: Ownership of the network is about to be created. There is a need to show the community of mining communities good deliberation, communication and engagement. Look forward to the possibility of holding another future search style conference similar to Moranbah


1. Understanding Knowledge, Justice and Change in Sustainable Development in Regional Communities by Fiona Solomon and Evie Katz, CSIRO Minerals

2. The Economic and Social Impacts of the Coppabella Mine on Nebo and the Mackay Region by John Rolfe and Stewart Lockie, Centre for Social Science Research, Central Queensland University.3.

Study Findings ­ Youth Suicide Prevention & Social Capital in the Mackay Region by Helen Waite, Queensland Centre for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Central Queensland University.

4. Wellbeing of Women and Children in Mining Communities in the Bowen Basin by Susan Rees, Queensland Centre for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Central Queensland University.

5. Population Trends and Socio-economic Characteristics of Bowen Basin Communities by Ross Barker & Alison Taylor, Planning Information and Forecasting Unit, Department of Local Government and Planning

6. Developing Social Indicators for Mining Associated Communities by David Brereton, Centre for Social Responsibility, The University of Queensland.

7. BTRE - Regional Centres Project by Kerry Laughton, Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics.

8. ACMER projects relevant to Sustainable Mining in the Bowen Basin by Owen Nichols, Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research.

9. Priorities in the area of Social Research - ACARP in 2003 by John Merritt, Anglo Coal, ACARP Representative.



Title Name Surname Position Association
Dr Neil Paulsen Lecturer School of Business, University of Queensland
Dr Fiona Solomon Research Fellow CSIRO Minerals
Dr Evie Katz Social Scientist CSIRO Minerals
Mr Rhys Worrall Scientific Officer Exploration and Mining Division
Dr Gail Kelly Urban & Regional Futures CSIRO CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Gungahin
Dr Stewart Lockie Director Centre for Social Science Research Central Queensland University
Assoc Prof. Helen Waite Senior Research Officer
Queensland Centre for the Prevention of Domestic & Family Violence
Central Queensland University
Dr Susan Rees Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Queensland Centre for the Prevention of Domestic & Family Violence
Central Queensland University
Prof Bob Miles Executive Director Institute for Sustainable Regional Development Central Queensland University
Prof. David Brereton Director Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining University of Queensland
Dr Lynda Herbert-Cheshire Post Doctoral Research Fellow School of Social Science University of Queensland
Dr Owen Nichols Research Program Manager Australian Centre for Mining Environmental Research (ACMER)
John Rolfe Assoc. Prof. in Regional Economic Development
Faculty of Business and Law & Centre for Environmental Management
Central Queensland University
Mr Ross Barker Manager Planning Info & Forecasting Unit, Dept Local Govt & Planning
Ms Kerry Laughton Researcher Bureau of Transport & Regional Economics
Ms Alison Taylor Principal Demographer Planning Information & Forecasting Unit Department of Local Government and Planning
Mr John Merritt Senior Environmental Advisor
ACARP Representative
Anglo Coal (Capcoal Management) Pty Ltd
Ms Helen Cheney Senior Research Fellow Institute for Sustainable Futures University of Technology
Mr Roger Wischusen Manager Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP)
Ms Lisa Pollard Principal Policy Officer Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Ms Fiona Martin Principal Advisor Office of Regional Development Department of State Development
Mr Keith Barker Representative Queensland Mining Council
Cr Peter Maguire Mayor Emerald Shire Council
Bowen Basin Partnerships Project Management Group:
Mr Region Frank Gilbert Regional Manager Mackay/Whitsunday Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Mr Patrick Noonan A/Strategic Projects Manager Mackay/Whitsunday Region Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Mrs Louise McLennan A/Executive Support Officer Mackay/Whitsunday Region Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Mr Bill Higham Regional Manager Central Queensland Region­Rockhampton Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Mr Arthur Hunt Principal Projects Manager
Central Queensland Region­Rockhampton
Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Mr Jim Grundy Regional Manager Mines Department of Natural Resources, Mines
Mr John Morris Director State Development Centre, Mackay Department of State Development
Mr Stephen Schwarten Senior Policy Officer Office of Rural Communities Department of Primary Industries
Ms Janet Benson Principal Policy Officer
Regional Strategy and Policy
Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Unable to attend:
Ms Paula Thomson Manager Department of the Premier and Cabinet
Dr Martin Bell Demographer Qld Centre for Population Research University of Queensland
Ms Maree Franettovich Research Consultant Centre for Social Science Research Central Queensland University
Dr Judith Winternitz Deputy Executive Director Bureau of Transport & Regional Economics
Dr Neil Paulsen Lecturer School of Business University of Queensland
Dr Lee Di Milia Senior Lecturer School of Management Central Queensland University



  • local
  • manageable scope
  • website - government
  • update every quarter
  • content
    • name of project
    • researcher
    • summary
    • link to other websites
    • social research
    • similar areas and comparative studies not included


Structural change in the area creating friction and opportunities opportunity to make inter-sectoral links especially because of the special relationship with coal industry.


One website with a small project team:

David Brereton
Arthur Hunt
Stewart Lockie
Lisa Pollard
Mining Industry


  • email list
  • website
  • ISRD as an organiser?


  • mine site
  • people at this workshop


Approach Bob Miles to set up web pages under ISRD?


  • a repeat of Moranbah forum in 2003 not covering old ground
  • involvement of groups in Moranbah? as a way of building network
  • repeat planning session each year


Don't expect the group to do to much ­ informal network a dedicated group.

Gaps in Research

  • involvement of local government no regional organisation
  • mining companies
  • development groups
  • planning groups

Gaps in Research

  • ageing workforce, health issues
  • ethnography studies of communities
  • links between social issues and mining community patterns (eg live on the course, worker productivity.

Outcomes wanted

  • identifying and agreeing on what are priority issues
  • ensuring that there is not overlapping activities ignorant of each other

Key takeaways

Understanding and Linkages/Networking

Next step

Continue Development of Understanding:

  • initial Stages of Progress, there is
  • more to be understood
Draw Industry into Social Framework:
  • funded Scoping Study
  • showcasing at CEO level
Clarify information needs:
  • industry
  • justification for Govt Planning
  • direct industry effects
Economic diversification
Community consultation including unions

Future directions

  • uniqueness of mining communities v rural/regional or other resource dependence communities
  • who is the audience for the research
  • importance of applied research
  • need for a more integration(partnership) approach: - Government (three tiers): industry, community, researchers eg: ARC Linkage.
  • importance of Clearing House
  • collating previous/current
  • research, literature review/library
  • need for closer dialogue with industry

Issues in forming partnerships

who owns it? who controls it? what will the outcomes be?

Please click on this link to access a list of research network participants and their contact details.