Winter | 2020

12th August 2020


Photo Credit: Sandy Horne

Hello everyone.

For all in Australia, the first half of 2020 has been disrupted by COVID crisis. The crisis has had significant impacts on universities, with teaching moving online, most staff working from home, travel bans and bans on face-to-face meetings. These conditions have made doing research more challenging than usual. The year to date has been especially difficult for PhD students, who have been prevented from doing some fieldwork activities.    

These times have also been tough for many former automotive industry workers and research participants. We extend our sincere sympathies to any participants who have been directly affected by the crisis. Given the circumstances, we are especially thankful to all the participants in the research process for maintaining their involvement and being flexible with research arrangements.

Over the last six months, we have made progress on each of the four streams of the Future Work Future Communities research program. Our most notable progress has been with the Stream 1 longitudinal survey which yielded a staggering 1277 interviews which were conducted in the short timeframe of just six weeks. This success means we are well placed for future waves of the survey and our other research streams. You can find a more detailed update for each body of work including Stream 1 below.

Another significant move forward has been the addition of a PhD Scholar to our team. Ms Kathryn Anderson has commenced her research project on the repurposing of industrial sites. Kathryn has previously worked for UniSA in an industry engagement role and we are confident that her research will open new opportunities and insights.

As the gears of our research lock into place, we look forward to what we will uncover and be able to produce as a result of our combined efforts over this last year.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to the process.

Sally Weller, Chief Investigator


Stream 1, the longitudinal survey of former automotive workers has just completed its fieldwork. The final list of names that constitutes the ‘population’ from which we drew the survey sample was only possible thanks to the invaluable help from our industry partners, government agencies and the staff at Hudson’s in Victoria. It was a crucial precursor to the success of the entire project.

Following the finalisation of the sample, we then designed and tested a survey instrument – drawing on the expertise of the various team members – and obtained the necessary approvals from the University of South Australia Human Research Ethics Committee. A formal tender process was then used to select a market research firm to conduct the telephone interviews. The contract was award to EY Sweeney and the interviews conducted between mid-April and mid-July 2020.  The interviewers achieved an impressive 1277 respondents. This number, which is more than the number envisaged in the original proposal, gives us great confidence that we will be able to retain sufficient numbers of participants across the planned five years of data collection. The team has already completed the design of the second (Wave 2) survey, which asks more questions about household circumstances, with a view to data collection in April-June 2021. 

For Stream 2, the qualitative interviews on specific topics, team members have identified two of the three initial sub-projects – one on the impact of redundancy payments in workplaces in the months before automotive closures (Weller); and one on workplace loyalties (Barnes). The design of these projects is well advanced and we are currently seeking Ethics approval with a view to conducting interviews in the second half on 2020. With the continuing COVID crisis, we are expecting interviews to be conducted by video link and telephone rather than face-to-face.

Stream 3, Discrete Choice Experiments (DCE), remains in the design stage, with some intricate planning required to get the framework in place. Fieldwork for this Stream is planned for mid-2021.

Stream 4, the community views survey will commence fieldwork at the end of 2020. The team has designed a community survey and obtained Ethics Approval, the only remaining step is engaging a market survey provider to conduct the interviews.

PhD Scholars

An important part of this project is the research that our PhD Scholars will undertake to deepen our analysis of the impacts of industry restructuring.

•      We would like to extend a warm welcome to PhD Scholar Kathryn Anderson who commenced the research topic ‘The repurposing of industrial sites: society, community and politics after economic restructuring’ at UniSA in February 2020.

•      The preferred candidate for the topic ‘Labour market preferences of retrenched workers’ has been identified and is undergoing the application process. They are expected to commence research in 2021.

Project Outputs

•      Sally Weller produced a paper for the German Journal Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie titled ‘The politicization of research methods, illustrated in the case of plant closures’

•      Tom Barnes co-authored a paper for Critical Sociology ‘Rethinking Economic Security in a Precarious World’

Other Activity from our Academics

•      International Perspectives on Local Government and Housing: The Australian Case in Context | Andrew Beer             

•      Reducing information asymmetry in the auctioning of non-perishable experience goods: The case of online wine auctions | Ilke Onur

•      The impact of regulatory review time on incremental and radical innovation: evidence from the high-risk medical device market | Ilke Onur  

•      A RE-AIM Analysis of an Intergenerational Dementia Education Program | Julie Ratcliffe  

•      Are people in residential care entitled to receive rehabilitation services following hip fracture? Views of the public from a citizens’ jury | Julie Ratcliffe

•      Protocol for the economic evaluation of the InTENSE program for rehabilitation of chronic upper limb spasticity | Julie Ratcliffe  

•      Using social return on investment analysis to calculate the social impact of modified vehicles for people with disability | Julie Ratcliffe  

•      Consumer preferences for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in Australia | Akshay Vij  

•      Heterogeneity in departure time preferences, flexibility and schedule constraints | Akshay Vij

•      A Dirichlet process mixture model of discrete choice: Comparisons and a case study on preferences for shared automated vehicles | Akshay Vij

•      Consumer preferences for on-demand transport in Australia | Akshay Vij  

•      The Dialectics of Community and Government | Sally Weller

•      Rethinking regions in turbulent times | David Bailey  

•      Industry 4.0 and Regional Transformations | David Bailey

•      Trinity of change agency, regional development paths and opportunity spaces | Markku Sotarauta

Next Steps

•      Data analysis and report writing to commence with the Stream 1 survey results

•      Finish planning and question design for Stream 2 and undertake in-depth interviews

•      Engage a company to administer the Stream 4 Community Survey

•      Continue planning for Stream 3 DCE

More information about our project and the team can be found at

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If you require any further information or have any queries about the project, please contact us via email: [email protected]