As a region of strategic importance to Tasmania, the TPE is engaged in ongoing research, with the West Coast Council and partners, into liveability on Tasmania’s West Coast. The West Coast has hosted key industries for over a century and is likely to experience increased investment in coming years given the energy transition and demand for base metals. At the same time, however, the West Coast is experiencing some major challenges including shortages of key skills and workers.
Our first tranche of research has highlighted the growing dependence on drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) workers on the West Coast. We argue that high occurrences of DIDO workforces can erode the extent to which local communities benefit from and ultimately support these industries. Further, we contend that a long-term collaborative approach to investing in community infrastructure will be required to enhance the liveability of the West Coast and the long-term viability of the industries it supports.
Our latest research features Census-based demographic and housing stock analysis to uncover phenomena such as population churn, proportion and demographics of arrivals and departures, and numbers of occupied and unoccupied dwellings. More particularly, our findings include:
- The West Coast experiences a high rate of population “churn” (for example, almost 40% of residents have lived there for less than five years);
- There are two major cohorts of new arrivals – younger, employed people and older, unemployed people; new arrivals tend to be the ones working in the more highly skilled roles;
- Families with younger children are leaving the West Coast to access education and other services that they perceive to be unavailable to them;
- The West Coast has a large number of unoccupied dwellings;
- The West Coast has a large number of single person households;
- There is significant rental demand in specific locations, particularly for younger new arrivals.
In summary, the research so far explores what is happening on the West Coast in terms of population movement and housing issues; now the TPE is focussing on why these patterns are occurring, with the goal of assisting the design of effective policy responses in the future. In early 2024 we will be releasing a report that explores the housing needs and preferences of new arrivals to the West Coast.