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Moving beyond the individual: Addressing the social determinants of risk taking in mining communities
journal contributionposted on 2018-08-31, 00:00 authored by Catherine O'MullanCatherine O'Mullan, Joseph Debattista, H Keen-Dyer, Helen Keen DyerHelen Keen Dyer
Increases in risk-taking behaviour, including alcohol, drugs and violence, are often associated with the cyclical nature of the mining sector in Australia. To date, such behaviour has been portrayed by mining companies and governments as an individual problem; little attention has been paid to the social contexts of such behaviour. This research uses a case study approach to explore the social determinants of risk taking in three mining communities in the Bowen Basin, Queensland, Australia. Interviews with a cross-section of health and social service providers highlight a number of social determinants underpinning risk taking and reveal a complex interplay of structural risk factors including shift work, income inequality and workplace culture. If we are serious about tackling risk taking in mining communities, governments, policy makers and mining companies need to recognise the influence of contextual factors, and shift attention to the physical, social and economic environments that impact on health outcomes.