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The high incidence of FIFO and DIDO workforces, and the number of very large-scale resource projects under construction and development, exacerbates these difficulties. Some of these projects are well-documented, such as activities in the Pilbara in Western Australia. However, other projects are lesser-known.
The national Mining Enumeration Strategy was developed for the first time for the 2011 Census. It built on the approaches used in Western Australia and the Northern Territory in the 2006 Census, where a centralised process was used to contact larger mining operations, with smaller operations and exploration camps being enumerated by local field staff.
The development involved extensive consultation with a range of organisations involved in the mining industry. These included national authorities, state government agencies, local government authorities (LGAs), peak bodies, and community representatives. The consultation process aimed to collect a range of information, including:
ABS Local Engagement Managers (LEM) in each state and territory used their own networks to identify mining operations that may not have been identified through other means.
To raise awareness of the Census, staff attended the Mount Isa Mining Expo, an annual national industry event. In Western Australia a series of regional workshops were conducted which aimed at securing a cooperative coordinated response in terms of increasing the number of Census forms completed correctly and returned promptly. The mining industry was well represented at each workshop. LEMs provided a critical service in developing strong links with mining and exploration activities on the ground.
Data was gathered from various sources and analysed to help understand the mining sector in order to achieve a better count. Consideration was given to the different types of mining activity in Australia. For example, the Hunter Valley, La Trobe Valley, Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill contain long term mining activities closely integrated with established townships. In contrast, Cloud Break in remote Western Australia and Hail Creek in Queensland are representative of a newer style of mining operation that requires a FIFO workforce. Olympic Dam in South Australia shares a number of similarities with Kambalda in Western Australia; both are reflective of evolving developments where the mine is near a town. Recent expansion in these two developments has required workers accommodation to be built nearer to the site, to accommodate a growing FIFO/DIDO workforce.
DURING THE CENSUS OPERATION
The strong cooperation of the mining industry greatly assisted the effective enumeration of mining sites. Before the Census, CMUs made contact with all identified mining operations. Information was obtained on the number of staff expected to be on site on Census night. The contacts assisted the CMUs to identify staff in the larger sites to employ as Special Collectors, who would oversee the distribution and collection of Census forms. In some instances, such as very remote sites or where a Special Collector was unable to be recruited, a Remote Area Mobile Team was employed to enumerate mining sites. For smaller mines, exploration sites and work gangs, local Census field staff managed the distribution and collection of census forms as part of the mainstream Census operations.
Targeted communication was an important component of the mining strategy. The communication campaign targeted mining companies, mine managers and mine site employees. The campaign included information leaflets, posters, media releases and regional radio and television broadcasts. Materials provided mine site workers with information on how the Census form should be completed, specifically in relation to the usual residence question. Campaign materials were distributed to the larger operations, as well as the smaller sites that were enumerated under the local field staff.
In many cases representatives from the mining industry and local LGAs assisted with the running of the publicity campaigns, often creating their own brochures and posters promoting the importance of the Census to the mining sector and communities surrounding mining sites.
For those with language and literacy issues, support was offered to assist them to complete the form correctly.
Recruitment for positions associated with the strategy remained a challenge. This was a problem both within mining sites - identifying mining staff to work as Special Collectors - and in the surrounding regional and remote areas - employing local people to work as Census Collectors.
Despite extensive planning, local Census field staff still reported finding a large number of smaller operations and exploration camps in their local areas that had not been found through the earlier identification process. This created difficulties in locating enough Census material to cover the shortfall.
Providing better access for people to complete an eCensus return will need to be considered for the future. Paper forms were often considered more practical, due to limited internet access at some sites and the poor quality of connections. Another reason for using paper forms was that Special Collectors could not confirm whether an employee had completed a Census form if they had used the online option.
Despite the targeted information for workers, there still remained confusion amongst some who did not realise that they needed to complete a form where they resided on Census night, believing their family or house mates would list them on their form at home.
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