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Results

Summary Report

Introduction

The aim of this series of surveys was to benchmark community attitudes toward the resources sector in a robust manner, consistent with additional comparable CSIRO research in WA and other regions of Australia while also allowing comparisons to previous data collection activities conducted by the CME. To this end, the survey instrument developed reflects work that CSIRO has conducted at the national scale in Australia as well as insights developed through extensive local community research in the resources sector.

Demographics

A survey of 894 Perth residents was conducted in July and August 2018 to understand community perspectives on a broad range of topics related to the resources sector. A similar survey instrument was used to collect 369 responses from the South West of WA and 242 from the Goldfields between March and June 2019. In total, across all three regions, 1505 surveys were analysed.

Results

A comprehensive analysis of survey responses revealed that:

  • Acceptance of the resources sector in WA is currently strong.
  • There is a strong positive value proposition for the resources sector currently, underpinned by employment opportunities across all three regions.
  • FIFO and DIDO was viewed more negatively in the Goldfields than in Perth and the South West, although residents of all three regions were above the midpoint of the scale used (i.e. somewhat supportive) that FIFO/DIDO was a sensible workforce strategy in remote areas.
  • Participants indicated that resources sector companies could usefully focus on preparing their current workforces for a potential transition to a more automated future.
  • Perceptions of environmental impacts from the resources sector were found to erode the broader value proposition for the resources sector.
  • Relational aspects (critical within a broader view of social licence to operate) such as feeling heard and respected by the sector and that the benefits from the sector are fairly distributed, were found to be critical to building greater trust and acceptance of the sector.
  • Trust was a strong driver of acceptance of the sector for Perth and Goldfields residents but less so for those in the South West. The value proposition for the sector and environmental concerns were much stronger drivers of acceptance in the South West than in Perth or the Goldfields. Across the regions, there was room for the resources sector to improve trust, although it is higher than for all levels of government.
  • Governance capacity was a very important driver of trust in the South West, more so than in Perth and the Goldfields.
  • General financial benefits from the sector are important in directly driving acceptance in the South West and Goldfields, but much less so in Perth.

Conclusion

The results indicate that the resources sector, inclusive of mining oil and gas (conventional and unconventional), is broadly positively viewed within the community. Acceptance of the sector is sound, the position of the sector in society is viewed favourably and there is a strong positive value proposition for the sector in WA, among residents in all regions. Employment of people in the sector is a key driver of this value proposition, while perceptions of environmental impact are the largest detractor within the value proposition analysis. Procedural (feeling heard and respected) and distributional fairness (feeling that the benefits of the resources sector are fairly spread throughout the community), and governance capacity are also key drivers of trust and acceptance, although differ in their relative importance by region. This speaks directly to both the challenges and opportunities in developing a stronger social licence to operate (SLO) for the resources sector in these key WA resource regions.

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