Mining towns in WA have a higher risk of violent attacks than regional towns with diverse industry, a new study has shown.
Researchers from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute recently published their findings, entitled The Wild West: Associations between mining and violence in Western Australia.
The results of the study showed that women who lived in mining towns were 64 per cent more likely to be assaulted than females in other regional areas.
Men living in mining towns (not FIFO) were found to be 64 per cent more likely to suffer domestic abuse than men from other towns.
Alarmingly, women had a 136 per cent increased chance of suffering a sexual assault in a mining town than in other types of towns.
The research drew upon WA police crime data from more than 25,000 assaults which took place in 2008-2009.
Lead researcher William Gilmore said data controls for alcohol consumption per capita and number of licensed establishments showed that alcohol was not a driving force for the high rates of assault.
“Alcohol availability across all regions of WA was accounted for in the analysis and the increased risk of assault in mining regions, particularly for women, remained,” Gilmore said.
“This is not to say that alcohol is not a problem in mining regions, but there may be other risk factors that contribute to the increased risk of violence in these areas.”
Gilmore was specific in pointing out that FIFO workers, often blamed for trouble caused in regional areas, were not to blame for domestic assaults in mining towns as they could not bring spouses with them.
It was also suggested that the assault figures could be higher, as police data did not account for altercations dealt with internally by mining companies.
“This [study] confirms anecdotal evidence that mining regions are not as safe as other parts of the state,” Gilmore said.
“Mining communities appear to present a special case for the management and reduction of violence.
“Public health and safety initiatives should seek to identify and address modifiable risk factors which may be independent of alcohol use.”
Mining towns surveyed in the research included Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Coolgardie, Meekatharra, Port Hedland, Roebourne, Menzies, Ashburton, Boddington, Cue, Dundas, Kondidin, Laverton, Leonora, Mount Magnet, Perenjori, Ravensthorpe, Sandstone, Wiluna, Yalgoo and Yilgarn.
The mining towns were compared against 115 rural non-mining towns, accounting for a major proportion of WA’s rural population, around 750,000 people.
Image: The Australian