Why regions can’t persuade FIFO workers to live locally

Feb 20, 2017

Regions that offer adequate amenities for residents have the best chance of converting long-distance commuters, writes Riccardo Welters and Christopher Nicholas.

Long-distance commuting between place of residence and place of work has been on the rise in Australia with the two most common forms being fly-in fly-out and drive-in drive-out.

It occurs when workers are unable to return home after their working day (usually due to distance), so a worker resides at the place of work for a set number of days before returning home for time off.

Using the most recent census data, combined with a region’s degree of remoteness, our research estimates the share of the workforce in a region that uses long-distance commuting. We then aimed to identify what type of regional characteristics influence that share.

Our research shows that ensuring adequate amenities in regions is a key factor in converting long-distance commuters into migrants to that region. This, in turn, helps the region realise the associated economic benefits of the projects that employ such workers.

What we found

We conservatively estimate Australia’s long-distance commuter population at between 75,000 and 90,000.

Not surprisingly, regional and remote Australia experiences the highest shares of the workforce using long-distance commuting.

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