The relationship between working arrangements and wellbeing in regional coal-mining communities


Transformed work organisation in mining has led to major changes in townships and fears about sustainability. We analyse the impact of work arrangements in coal and their relationship to individual, family and community well–being. Using a two-stage, large, matched employee–partner survey supplemented by qualitative research, we address in an integrated framework the effects of changes in work time and work organisation on fatigue, occupational and road safety, work–life balance, marital conflict, psychological health, social capital and community life. This study addresses questions critical to social cohesion and the future of regional communities, and to labour retention and relations in Australia’s largest merchandise export industry.

Funded by the Australian Research Council (Linkage grant 2009–2012).


The Australian Coal and Energy Survey (ACES) is a study of working arrangements and wellbeing in its broadest sense. The ACES is conducted by Professor David Peetz, Associate Professor Georgina Murray and Dr Olav Muurlink of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing.  It is funded through the Australian Research Council’s (ARC's) nationally competitive Linkage Program for research and the methodology was peer-reviewed and approved during the assessment process. Under the terms of the program, the project has received financial and practical assistance from the ARC and the Mining and Energy Division of the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU), including co-operation in the provision of a membership lists from which a sample could be scientifically selected.  It is a longitudinal study, incorporating a second wave in 2013 which will show how things change over time. These Reports address the first wave of the study, which gathered data from 2566 mining and energy workers and 1915 partners, between September and December 2011.

Chief investigators

  • Professor David Peetz (Griffith University, Australia) -
  • Associate Professor Georgina Murray (Griffith University, Australia)

Research fellow

  • Dr Olav Muurlink (formerly of Griffith University, Australia)

Research outputs

  • Loudoun, Rebecca, Muurlink, Olav, Peetz, David and Murray, Georgina 2014, “Does affect the relationship between control at work and sleep disturbance for shift workers”, Chronobiology International, doi:10.3109/07420528.2014.957307.
  • Murray, Georgina, Peetz, David and Muurlink, Olav 2012, “Gendered work inequalities in the Australian mining industry: evidence of a large–scale survey”, Canadian Industrial Relations Association, 1 June, Calgary, Canada (unpublished conference paper).
  • Muurlink, Olav, Peetz, David and Murray, Georgina 2014, “Work–related influences on marital satisfaction amongst shiftworkers and their partners: a large matched–pairs study, Community Work & Family, vol 17, no. 3, pp. 288–307.
  • Muurlink, Olav, Peetz, David, Murray, Georgina and Loudoun, Rebecca 2013, “Social consequences of workaholism among long–hours wage earners”, 21st International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time, 6 November, Säu Paulo, Brazil (unpublished conference paper).
  • Peetz, David and Murray, Georgina 2012, “Union context and strategy in the Australian coal industry”, Canadian Industrial Relations Association, 31 May, Calgary, Canada (unpublished conference paper).
  • Peetz, David and Murray, Georgina 2011, “‘You get really old, really quick’: involuntary long hours in the mining industry”, Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 13–29.
  • Peetz, David, Murray, Georgina and Muurlink, Olav 2012, “The impact of working arrangements on the physical and psychological health of workers and their partners”, 16th World Congress of International Labor and Employment Relations Association, July, Philadelphia, USA (refereed conference paper).

In the media

More information

For more details about our research, get in touch