Background

Collie is home to 9000 people and 1250 jobs in the coal mining and coal fired energy industry. The state has been powered by coal mined from Collie and its surroundings since 1880s.

The Collie region faces significant economic and social adjustment pressures arising from a continued decline in demand for coal and coal-fired electricity generation.

In August 2019, the McGowan Government announced two of four operating  units at Synergy’s Muja Power Station will be retired from October 2022 to protect against higher power bills for households and to ensure the State’s electricity supply remains stable.

Government action to manage the shift away from coal-powered energy, to encourage new opportunities and to maintain the community’s trust and engagement in its economic future is a critical whole-of-government priority.

In recognition of this, the State Government committed to a Just Transition for Collie, based on international evidence that suggests working together at a regional level can improve overall outcomes for impacted communities including though re-skilling and job placements in nearby industries.

Source: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/about-the-collie-delivery-unit

The Just Transition Working Group (JWTG) comprises representatives of industry, government, unions and the Collie community. The JWTG were seeking a report and dataset about employees in the region to assist in planning for the transition of the coal mining and coal fired energy related workforce in Collie.

Objectives:

The objectives for the research study includes:

  1. Develop an agreed understanding of the skillsets of the Collie workforce including training and accreditations
  2. Understand the types of jobs, training and transition arrangements may be attractive to the workforce
  3. To be able to use the study as an input to planning for transition

Approach

The Emergination team on this project comprised by Managing Director Justin Davies and lead Research Consultant Jodie Thompson.

A survey was developed in conjunction with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and workshopped with the JTWG stakeholders.

Various modifications were included to capture the detailed qualifications and experience, and to ensure that the content of the survey met the language and expectations of the workforce.

The survey was developed both in online and paper forms to cater for the nature of the workforce, most of whom work on equipment rather than at a desk.

A video was developed to explain the survey with the aim of increasing response rates.

Once the results were entered, analysed and developed in to a report, the report was presented to the Just Transition Working Group in Collie.

Of particular importance was sharing the voice of the employees — comments from those that completed the survey. These comments provided real insight into how they we, and are, thinking about transition away from coal, and how it will impact their lives.

Result:

Achieving high response rates to any survey is challenging. Strong survey results were provided giving consideration to many in the workforce nearing retirement and considering that any transition activity would occur after they had retired.

The passion for Collie is strong, and this report provided useful insights for the JWTG to consider in their deliberations and future planning.