It's Raining Men in Darwin: Gendered Effects from the Construction of Major Oil and Gas Projects

Andrew Taylor, Dean Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Construction of large onshore oil and gas processing plants brings the promise of significant local economic attributions; however, the injection of a high churning male construction workforce can change and dominate the host community’s demographics. This can generate a range of issues which are well documented in the literature on resource ‘Boomtowns’. But because most studies are retrospective and focus on small towns, findings may hold limited transitivity to relatively large and economically diverse towns or cities. Consequently research based knowledge for the facilitation of dialogue between governments, the community and industry on the scale and timing of construction impacts is absent. Darwin, a city of around 130,000 residents in the north of Australia, has secured a large liquid natural gas processing plant which is currently under construction. The plant is touted to bring substantial economic benefits with a peak construction workforce of more than 3,500 anticipated. But little meaningful discussion on possible effects on population makeup and social fabric of the city has been forthcoming. This study profiles the INPEX plant construction workforce under several scenarios based on combinations of local worker engagement and total workforce size. Profiles are overlayed onto population projection data to appraise the scale of demographic and social impacts. Findings show that, despite Darwin’s size and pre-existing population, labour force and family profiles, the project will contribute significant demographic and social upheaval during construction. Governments, the community and industry are advised to engage in an early and open dialogue focused on mitigating negative and garnering positive long-term outcomes with this research as the basis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Rural and Community Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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