The recent unfortunate death of the Australian based celebrity Charlotte Dawson has bought a tear to my eye. The unnecessary and incessant online bullying directed towards this beautiful lady (inside and out) has indirectly led to her untimely death.

Yes, Australia is a land of free speech.  We need to be allowed to say what we want, when we want.  I believe that is within the boundaries of free speech that as human beings that we treat others just as we like to be treated.  

Saying, doing and acting towards another human with consideration, care and equality.

If you don’t agree with what that person is saying, doing or acting, that is fine, you do not have to agree but use your intelligent, compassionate words to disagree.

It is our right to argue anyone’s opinion but aggressive, unjustified and evil words do not exclaim your point, they just demonstrate that you are a small minded person.

Bullying comes in all sorts of forms, situations and ages but that doesn’t make it right, wanted or justified.  

Love makes the world go round, not bullying. explains cyber bullying as;

  • it allows for a potentially infinite audience to view or participate
  • it is often anonymous as perpetrators can hide behind false identities
  • it has a permanency of expression as information put online can be difficult to remove, and may be recorded and archived
  • it may be difficult to escape from the bullying as people often use technology everyday and in the case of mobile phones can be constantly contactable
  • content can be duplicated easily
  • content is often searchable.


Bullying is not acceptable in any situation.

Bullying needs to stop right now.

We are loosing too many beautiful people due to bullying.

A great start to stop cyber-bullying is to make it illegal.

Sign this petition:

and help normal Australian’s with normal lives (who can not publicize their experiences of bullying as easily as Charlotte).

You may just save a life.

Foot in the Door

Today’s post is a thought of the idea of “Foot in the Door.”  As fore mentioned, I am seeking full time employment (ultimately).  My theory is that if just one person allows me the opportunity to get my foot in the door of their organisation, I will prove my worth.  

Then, why is it so hard to get my foot in the door?

While still remaining positive and determined, this is an idea I often ponder.  

I believe that, that one person whom accepts my foot (pardon the pun) will be exceptionally surprised at my genorisity, motivation, eagerness, intellegence and curious mind.


A rumour is defined by as “A story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts.”  Therefore a rumour is a non factual story that is circulated around.  

A fact is defined by as “something that actually exists; reality; truth.” Therefore a fact is something that has been witnessed by more than one person.

Facts outweigh the title of rumour. Facts are when other people have seen this issue.  Facts are what intelligent people believe rather than mere rumours.



Hunting for a job…

As everyone knows I am seeking full time work (or part time or casual) in a communications role (or administration) within any industry.  I am finding it extremely difficult to even advance to first round offers but I refuse to let this bother me.  I will remain happy, I will not get depressed and I will keep going.  

Although, I require the purpose and sense of self importance that a full time position requires, I have been relaying that process into my job seeking.  Every day, I set myself goals.  Every day, I have a purpose to get up in the morning.  And I still remain determined.

I have embraced my job seeking as a full time job.  I stay organised.  I keep a log book of all the applications I have made, so that, I don’t apply for the same position twice or even when I do get a call back, I know exactly what the position is, what the organisation is about and I can presume what questions they will ask me. 

“Just keep going” and “You can do this” is my self talk. 

For all of you other job seekers out there, I hope you find what you are looking for and don’t forget to keep going.


Community Perceptions of the Coal Seam Gas Industry


Community Perceptions of the Coal Seam Gas Industry



Julie-Ann Ellis




Elizabeth Mitchell


Department of Journalism and Communication

The University of Queensland




The arrival of the coal seam gas industry to the Surat Basin has impacted communities, economically, environmentally and socially. This paper aims to understand the community experience of the impacts of the coal seam gas industry using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Wallumbilla, Queensland, has experienced, positive and negative, transformations since the introduction of coal seam gas. 

Due to the extent of impact’s affecting the town, their once identifiable, “sense of community” has diminished remarkably. It is in the best interest of governments, coal seam gas companies and communities to rectify the loss of community and to reduce the negative perceptions of the coal seam gas industry.




The aim of this study is to examine community perceptions of the coal seam gas industry. Community is defined by the Oxford University Press (2013)as a “group of people living in a particular area.” The community of this study are from the rural region of Wallumbilla, Queensland (within the area of the Surat Basin, see diagram A). Wallumbilla holds “a strong sense of community spirit” (The Hornery Institute, 2009, 35) and it is within the framework of community experience that we will discuss the coal seam gas industry.

The charming township of Wallumbilla is located forty kilometres east of Roma, and the residents are a dedicated welcoming community (Visit Maranoa, n.d.).The introduction of the coal seam gas industry to this area occurred in the early 1990’s but has been more relevant to the community in recent years, due to exploration and construction.  The impact of these phases of coal seam gas has changed the lifestyles, characters and inhabitants of the community (Higginbotham et al., cited in Hossain et al., 2013, 32).  Perceptions –(the way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted. Oxford University Press, 2013) – of the Wallumbilla community have altered, both, positively and negatively since the introduction of the coal seam gas industry.


Background/Literature Review

The “comparative success of coal seam gas operations in the United States” (Swayne, 2012, 165) was shadowed by Australia. Cook (2011) states, “Just 15 years ago, shale gas supplies were non-existent, but recent drilling and fracture stimulation (fracking) Innovations have revolutionised the natural gas market.” Australia’s “major source” (CSIRO, 2012, 6)of coal seam gas is the Surat Basin and productionis due to the“relatively shallow depths of the lower rank coal seams of the Jurassic age” (Geoscience Australia, 2013).The “Surat Basin occupies 300 000km² of central southern Queensland and central northern New South Wales” (Geoscience Australia, 2012).



Within Queensland, the coal seam gas industry is administered by the state government.

CSG exploration is carried out under the Petroleum Act 1923 and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004. Coal seam gas production is administered under the Petroleum Act 1923, the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 and the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2013).


The Queensland Government’s regulatory approach is essentially “learning by doing,” the implementation of a systematic approach to continuous monitoring, evaluation and enhancement of the regulatory framework (Swayne, 2012). The “learning by doing” approach was discussed and treated with contempt by, Participant 1 (interview, October 6, 2013), Participant 2 (interview, October 6, 2013), and Participant 3 (interview, October 6, 2013).

However, at the beginning of this year, the Queensland Government’s, Department of Natural Resources and Mines released the Coal Seam Gas Engagement and Compliance Plan 2013 that outlines activities to achieve a balance between the interests of industry, rural land holders, regional communities and the environment.  The plan (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2013, 5) was developed to:

Proactively engage with the community, local government and the coal seam gas industry as well as respond to landholder enquiries, issues and complaints.  Through engagement, communities will have better understanding and awareness of coal seam gas activities in the region. Coal seam gas companies, through a range of industry engagement strategies, will have an improved understanding of their responsibilities to the Department and to the communities in which they operate.


Communities are concerned with the associated impacts with coal seam gas mining, “Impacts on water and the environment, impacts on farms and food production and also the social and economic impacts” (Douglas, 2011). 

Local environmental and social impacts are critical risk factors that should not be taken lightly. An adverse community reaction may result in protracted disputes and delays with real financial impacts on the success of projects, as well as damage to corporate reputation and a diminished social licence to operate (Locke, 2010, 2).

Therefore, it is the community who has the ability to maintain successful coal seam gas production.

“It is evident that individuals living in rural communities face life circumstances and unique ecologies which differ markedly from populations living in urban centres” (Hegney, 2007, 3) and it is this uniqueness that has been compromised by the arrival of the coal seam gas industry. Swayne (2012) believes, landholders are impacted through disruption of land use practices, surface impacts, air, water, soil contamination, and other social and economic impacts.

And it is within the area of impacts, that the following research questions were posed:

RQ1        To what extent and in what ways do the community perceive their “community spirit”?

RQ2        To what extent and in what ways has coal seam gas altered the environment, economic, local infrastructure and services within the community?

RQ2        How have community perceptions altered since the introduction of the coal seam gas industry?



The hermeneutic phenomenological research method will be used to understand the “everyday life and meanings of rural experiences” (Panelli, 2006, 70), concerning the coal seam gas industry. “Phenomenological approaches are good at surfacing deep issues and making voices heard” (Lester, 1999, 4). The adaption of the original psychological term (devised and developed by Husserl (1983), and Heidegger (1961), Merleau-Ponty and Giorgi) is an inductive, descriptive and meaningful approach, “an interpretive and qualitative form of research that seeks to study phenomena that are experienced” (Flood, 2010, p. 7). In other words, to understand what the experience is like from the point of view of the participants.

The participants were purposively targeted on the basis of their residence status and snowball sampling was used. All interviews were face to face, with the exception of two group interviews (with two participants each) and all were digitally recorded. The questions posed to the participants were regarding the issuesand experiences of community.

The interviews were transcribed and the following steps were taken (Giorgi 2012):

  1. The complete set of data was read in order to get a sense of the whole.
  2. While rereading, the data was broken into meaningful units.
  3. The data was then transformed into expressions of what the subject said, and was made explicit from the phenomenon.
  4. The direct expressions were then reviewed and essential structure of the experience was written.
  5. The essential structure was then used to clarify and interpret the raw data.

Common threads of individuals’ experiences and meanings were clarified using essential structures (or relationships) of change within Wallumbilla.



Ethical clearance for research involving human participants was granted on the 19th of September, 2013, by The University of Queensland’s Behavioural and Social Sciences Ethical Review Committee. The primary ethical consideration within this study relates to the potential disclosure of commercially or other sensitive information by interviewed participants. Unintended disclosures have been eliminated by removing identifiers from the raw data.  Identification of participants in the study has remained confidential and it is the aim of the researcher to not display a direct quote that will essentially identify a participant.

Other considerations, included, potential indigenous participants (a representative from the Mandandanji people was approached but no aboriginal people reside in the area), and “gatekeeper’s” or “permission-giver’s” permission (media liaison’s from Santos and Origin were approached and they both declined my invitation).



Eleven people were interviewed; two people held professional positions, seven were farmers, and two were truck drivers. Resident longevity varied from three to seventy years, and a variety of ages was included (see Appendix A.). 

Saturation of change caused by the coal seam gas industry became apparent through the experiences of the community. Elements of the experiences of community members include; environmental concerns, activism, economic transition, sponsorship,concerns over increased traffic and the quality of the roads, and general perceptions of the coal seam gas industry. The change of community experience was mostly of a negative nature but positive experiences did occur.



Community Spirit

The phenomena of community experience before coal seam gas, was; “good” (Participant 8, interview, October 7, 2013), “caring, and spirited” (Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013), “neighbourhood watch, and peaceful” (Participant 2, interview, October 6, 2013), “sleepy, and quiet” (Participant 11, interview, October 9, 2013).  Participant 2 (interview, October 6, 2013) describes the Wallumbilla community before the introduction of coal seam gas.

We used to have a peered feeling of peace and security. We were familiar with practically everyone in the community. Everybody had knowledge of each other. Some people had a lifetime of knowledge, there were generations of knowledge. If someone had a different personality it was accepted, you know them, you know their circumstances, you know what’s happened in their past life, and you know what’s happened in the present. So you can identify strengths and weaknesses with all that.


Community Perceptions

The once unified community is feeling divided and that there is no sense of identity. There is mistrust because most of the coal seam gas agreements are confidential, so, people don’t talk (Participant 2, interview, October 6, 2013).

The “degeneration” (Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013) of the sense of community is demonstrated through Participant 11’s (interview, October 9**, 2013) experienced impacts,

In the short time I have lived here, the change for Wallumbilla has been quite clear and quite pronounced. The increased traffic, the increased number of orange shirted people that you see in the community, the decrease in our mobile phone reception and 3G connection, the increase number of people in the hotel on virtually any night of the week. All those, are things that have had an impact.


The recurrent trend of transformation within the communities through each category is related to the “extent of the work force who are coming in” (Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013). Participant 2 (interview, October 6, 2013) has experienced the decline of the community’s central hub, “Locals don’t even like going to the pub anymore due to the influx of coal seam gas miners.”


Environmental Concerns

“People realise Australia needs mining and that they have no choice in the expansion but there

are concernsof what we will be left with environmentally” (Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013). Concerns of environmental change resonated with all the participants.  Particularly, that of the Great Artesian Basin.

In contrast,“If they can get as much scientific data and monitor, monitor, monitor. Look at it and see what’s going on. What can you do, apart from monitor it and look for change?”(Participant 7, interview, October 8, 2013).


Local Economic transitions

Several economic transitions (housing, local businesses, and jobs)were considered to be both, negative and positive.

The current event of affordable housing was perceived negatively by four participants. “There’s an improvement for investors only” (Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013).

The experiences for local businesses is“a two edged sword.”Participant 7(interview, October 8, 2013) said,

“Some small businesses have turned into huge businesses over a couple of years. They have gone from employing 5 men to employing a hundred men.Then, you have the other guys. For example, the smash repairs in Roma lost all of his staff. He works under insurance claims, someone will hit a kangaroo, the insurance company comes out, and the assessor will assess it, and says “Yes, three grand is what you are going to get paid to fix it.” He can’t put his rates up. He spent twelve months trying to get 4 to 7 employees, on visa’s out of the Philippine’s.  He could only pay them what he could afford to pay them, the award rate. He got hit hard but once he was able to get some visa workers in, away he went.”


The coal seam gas industry does hire locals first and this has provided younger members of the community with the opportunity to stay in the community.  However, “Normal locals that are not working within the resource companies or not on big wages cannot survive under the current economic conditions”(Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013). The general consensus is that there are two different prices, “normal prices and gas prices”(Participant 10, interview, October 8, 2013).


Concerns over increased traffic and the quality of the roads

Increased traffic was a shared event experienced by all participants.

I sit on my veranda in the afternoon (between four thirty and six o clock) and all you can hear is vroom, vroom, vroom. A constant parade of trucks. When I arrived here three years ago that was not the case. The trucks that were on the road were generally local agricultural vehicles, cattle trucks and property trucks. Nowhere near the volume. That to me, is in your face, presence of change (Participant 11, interview, October 9, 2013).


Ten out of eleven participants discussed the quality of the roads and believe that it is the increased traffic that has caused the deterioration of the roads. “There is a lot more traffic on the roads, our poor old road is just getting holes in it with all the traffic” (Participant 5, interview, October 8, 2013)

Yet, Participant 5 (interview, October 8, 2013) positively identified the experience of roads, “They are not too bad, they keep them up to scratch.”




General perceptions of the coal seam gas industry

Negative sentiments of “miscommunication”(Participant 6, interview, October 8, 2013) and“consuming”(Participant 2, interview, October 6, 2013) were experienced when dealing with coal seam gas industry organisations. Participant 3 (interview, October 6, 2013) said that it is unfortunate for some companies because we have several companies on our case at one time, and we throw them all in the same basket and hate the lot of them.

They are dishonest, disrespectful and have no sense of communication. They don’t want to tell you the whole picture, they bombard you with bits and pieces like a jigsaw puzzle so you have to fit the pieces together. They are invasive because they don’t care what they are doing(Participant 1, interview, October 6, 2013).


Positively, Participant 7, explains the coal seam gas companies’ experiences, when dealing with Land holders:

Everybody is different, everybody has a different set of values and beliefs.  This land holder wants a phone call every time someone’s coming on his place and the next one couldn’t give two hoots. They need to have different agreements with landholders but try and get that across to five thousand workers. You have to let us know when you go into that place, but don’t worry about that one. It wouldn’t work.


Other Outcomes, Sponsorship

Participants agree that sponsorship occurs within the Wallumbilla area, however, most believe that it only occurs for public relations purposes. However, “The football clubs, the races, the shows, the camp drafts, all of those community events are very well supported by all of the big guys. A lot of them don’t want recognition, but the companies are always forthcoming” (Participant 7, interview, October 8, 2013).

Wallumbilla State School has benefited from sponsorship;

We organised left over poly pipe that cost Santos time and money. We had to get oversize trucks in, to bring these big, long, lengths of poly pipe in, so that we could put new drainage in.  Little things like that, if the school was to get Q-build to do it, it would have cost them twenty fifty grand, easy (Participant 7, interview, October 8, 2013).

The value of the work was significant to the school.  These “in-kind practices” have occurred a number of times but “It is something that would have happened anyway.  If it hadn’t been Santos equipment, it would have been locally owned equipment” (Participant 11, interview, October 9, 2013). The gestures from community members towardsthe school has enabled the coal seam gas organisations to grant sponsorship. 

Additionally, the school has received “some minor sponsorship towards camps, excursions, and music programs,though, to be fair that is because the school has not chased the coal seam gas organisations intensively” (Participant 11, interview, October 9, 2013).  


Other Outcomes: Activism

One third of participants hold a pro-active stance, one third are not bothered by coal seam gas at all and the last third are thrilled with their situation. The pro-active participants displayed non-intrusive forms of activism, in their personal and business dealings with the coal seam gas companies.  The disgruntled participants clearly don’t believe in “Lock the Gate” but are particularly concerned with their own personal rights.

The mission of the Lock the Gate Alliance is to protect Australia’s natural, environmental, cultural and agricultural resources from inappropriate mining and to educate and empower all Australians to demand sustainable solutions to food and energy production (Lock the Gate Alliance, n.d.).


Participants who were “not bothered” or “thrilled,” raised concerns with the potential impacts of the Great Artesian Basin, and the amount of traffic and the condition of the roads.  These concerns are expressed within the corresponding categories. It is interesting to note, that the Wallumbilla community holds varying activism perceptions and experiences, however, all of the participants agree (within different levels) on the transformations of the Great Artesian Basin and traffic problems.




 Before the arrival of the coal seam gas industry” community” was highly valued by the 262 (The Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011)residents of Wallumbilla. Cohen (cited in Panelli, 2006, 75) explains the position of community within this paper, “The ‘community’ as experienced by its members does not consist in social structure or in ‘the doing’ of social behaviour. It inheres, rather in ‘the thinking’ about it. It is in this sense that we can speak of the ‘community’ as a symbolic, rather than a structural, construct.”

The ideals of peace and security of this little but thriving town has been jeopardized by the arrival of the coal seam gas industry.The transformations of external factors created by the coal seam gas industry have caused various shifts of community perceptions. It is not only the cosmetic changes that have affected the community, it is the “loss of familiarity” (Participant 2, interview, October 6, 2013) of community that has largely impacted participants.

“Mining in the area has resulted in a change to the community structure and this is one of the major issues affecting the mental health of community members”(2010, Hossain, et. Al., 33). In a recent study titled, Impact of the mining industry on the mental health of landholders and rural communities in southwest Queensland, the authors’ (2010, Hossain, et. Al.), found that, the coal seam gas industry has directly impacted on the mental health of landholders and associated communities.

The mental health impacts have been studied extensively in North America,“whereby rapid economic and demographic change associated with large-scale resource development was understood to lead inevitably to social and psychological dislocation and a breakdown of established community structures” (Tonts and Plummer, 2012, 19).

Lessons learned from other regional areas within Australia and internationally suggest that rapid growth in mining activity can result in significant environmental, social and economic impacts on the local communities (Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, 2011, 6).

The Queensland State Government acknowledges its key role is to strengthen social impact assessments (Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, 2008), so that affected communities’ will gain better outcomes.

Swayne’s (2012), fore-mentioned “learning by doing” approach, is present within thegovernment’s environmental policies and legislations.   In Queensland, “the environmental impact assessment procedures require developments to address cumulative impacts” (Franks, Brereton, & Moran, 2010, 305).  “Cumulative impacts are the successive, incremental and combined impacts of one, or more, activities on society, the economy and the environment” (Franks, Brereton, Moran, Sarker, & Cohen, 2010, 10).

In Queensland, cumulative impacts are not specificallymentioned in either the Environmental Protection Act 1994 or the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971… While no definition of cumulative impacts is provided, the generic terms of reference does provide some guidance by stating that cumulative impacts ‘must be considered over time or in combination with other (all) impacts in the dimensions of scale, intensity, duration or frequency of the impacts’ (QDERM, 2010). Evidence of collaborative management is also required(Franks, Brereton, & Moran, 2010, 305).


In Managing the cumulative impacts of coal mining on regional communities and environments in Australia, Franks, Brereton, & Moran (2010, 307), address the assessment methodologies relevant to project-level impact assessments that have the potential to address cumulative impacts, including forecasting, scenario analysis, impact pathway analysis and modelling.  Or in other words, the authors have made suggestions of “management and assessment approaches” (Brereton, & Moran, 2010, 310) foruse, by the; coal seam gas industry, government and community.

Impacts of the Surat Basin and personal water bores, was of great concern tothe Wallumbilla community (along with traffic/roads),which is under the jurisdiction of the new entity, the Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment.  Their strategy is to monitor and collect data on water levels and quality in the Surat Basin, “on an ongoing basis” (Department of Natural Resources and Mines, 2013), which mirrors the comments of Participant 7.

The findings of affordable housing, within this paper, are confirmed byother studies conducted on the Bowen Basin region.

The increased use of local temporary accommodation has caused intense community conflict and significantly reduced the amount of low-cost accommodation for existing residents and other non-mining residents to the region(Morrison, Wilson, & Bell 2012, 484).

Carrington,& Perira(2011, 5), found, Seventy five per cent of respondents felt the impact of housing availability and seventy nine per cent on housing affordability was negative.  “Housing and the lack of accommodation is a persistent problem; high demand and speculative behaviours in some instances has driven up prices, often marginalising those in the host community who cannot afford the high rents”  (Measham, McKenzie, Moffat, & Franks, cited in Rolfe, Miles, Lockie, & Ivanova, 2007, 189).

The impact of increased traffic (Miller, van Megan, & Buys 2012) and the quality of the roads was a shared event of individuals from the Wallumbilla community. The Surat Basin Regional Planning Framework (2011, 57)said,

The growth projections for the Surat Basin will continue to compound the issues associated with road and rail systems performance.  In response, a significant government commitment toward infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading to support industry, to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and commodities, and to maintain a liveable and attractive community is in place and will need to plan for longer term demands. 


Researchers (Franks, et. Al., 2012, Franks, et. al, 2010, Morrison, et. al., 2012,Miller, et. al., 2012, & Measham, et. al., 2013) believe to reduce the cumulative impacts of the coal seam gas industry, it is imperative that governments, industries and communities work together to achieve similar goals. Del Furia & Wallace Jones (cited in Lockie, Franetovich, Sharma, & Rolfe, 2012,) founded, factors which increase the effectiveness of public participation in relation to impact assessments:

  1. Seeking to involve as diverse a public as possible, including those who do not belong to self-organised interest groups and who will not actively seek out information on the proposal.
  2. Ensuring affected publics have the opportunity and capacity for genuine influence over the outcomes of impact assessment and decision-making processes.
  3. Providing opportunities for involvement early in the life of a proposal and consistently throughout the life of the subsequent project.
  4. Going beyond legislative requirements merely to take public feedback into account and instead adopting a genuinely flexible and participatory approach to planning and decision-making.


Communities are concerned with the associated impacts with coal seam gas mining, “Impacts on water and the environment, impacts on farms and food production and also the social and economic impacts” (Douglas, 2011). 

Local environmental and social impacts are critical risk factors that should not be taken lightly. An adverse community reaction may result in protracted disputes and delays with real financial impacts on the success of projects, as well as damage to corporate reputation and a diminished social licence to operate (Locke, 2010, 2).

Therefore, it is the community who has the ability to maintain successful coal seam gas production.


It is in the informed opinion of this researcher, that the changes due to the introduction of the coal seam gas industry to Wallumbilla are extensive.  The documented factors of environment, economic, and social impacts were visually obvious to the researcher when the interviews were conducted. Additionally, the loss of community spirit, of the town I once knew, is significant.  Friends, families and neighbours are now in social limbo as they individually deal (positively and negatively) with the coal seam gas organisations.  I believe that the Surat Basin regional Planning Framework (2011) needs to highlight Wallumbilla’s individual needs and that it does not align with the true “lived experiences” of the community.  Consequently, community engagement policy makers need to “get their hands dirty.”

Limitations and Further Research

 Topic discussed by participants but were not included in this paper due to limitations of word length, were the experiences of; powerlines, media coverage, and community services, including the rural fire brigade.

It is recommended that further research is conducted on the Surat Basin region and smaller towns like Wallumbilla. Too much emphasis has been placed on the “hubs” of the regions (Roma) and the smaller towns have missed out on much needed interactions.

It is the external factors that have created a “loss of community spirit” and it is recommended that the coal seam gas organisations, governments and the Wallumbilla community, open lines of communication to regain the sense of community.

Additionally, it is recommended, that precise research is conducted into the matters of community impacts.  These impacts are not researched or discussed widely enough within academic or government publications.

Moreover, I believe, it would be advantageous to the coal seam gas industry and government, to explore community perceptions state wide.



This study examined community perceptions of the coal seam gas industry. The community experiences of Wallumbilla are mostly of a negative perception.  The external impacts of economic, environment (and so on) has forced the community to change, both, positively and negatively.  The “spirit” of the Wallumbilla community has diminished since the introduction of the coal seam gas industry.  It is in the best interest of the coal seam gas industry (and government) to build and maintain solid relationships with community.


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Thank you “Ark HELP food-outlet”

Currently, I am looking for full-time employment and am on an extremely low income.  

At the moment, I can barely pay my rent let alone put food on the table for my children.


There is a wonderful local community organisation who are helping me out.

For just ten dollars, I receive a wonderful package of food!




The Ark HELP food-outlet is open between 10 am and 1 pm, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

They are situated at Unit 9-10, 66 Bay Terrace, Wynnum (near the library).

You can contact them on (07) 3393 5547 or (07) 3396 0256.


Thank you Ark, I thought I would repay the favour.Image

Malaysian Jail

This is a very rudimentary written experience of a friend, I wrote this for him for the Australian Court system.

During, February 2010, I traveled to Malaysia to carry out consultancy work for Bluefin Seafoods.  I was diving in several locations throughout Malaysia with Bluefin’s marine scientist, conducting research for the sea cucumber farming industry. 


Initially, I went to the Australian embassy because my passport went through the wash.  While exiting the Australian Embassy I was immediately arrested by Interpol.  I was handcuffed, shoved in a car and later, handed over to the Royal Malaysian Police.  Whilst in the car an Interpol officer explained they would hand me over to the Australian Federal Police within three days.


The Royal Malaysian Police kept me in a tiny cell (2m x 2m) and gave me half a liter of dirty water to drink each day.  On my second day, the Australian Ambassador visited me and said, “It could take up to ten days to get you sent back to Australia and your family has to pay for your ticket.”  Interpol entered my cell on my third day, handcuffed me and propelled me into a car.  We drove for approximately one hour to Bukit Jalin Police lockup. 


On arrival, I was thrust into a large empty (10 x10m) concrete cell and the guards took my handcuffs off.  I remained alone in the cell for half a day (with no water) until a group of ten or so prisoners were placed in my cell.  After a few hours, each prisoner was thrown a small packet of rice with no water.


The processing rigmarole was traumatic and tedious. I was then taken into a building about the size of a school hall or gymnasium, with approximately two hundred and fifty prisoners.  These people were the worst, most disgusting people I had ever seen in my life; some looked like Prisoner-of-war’s and some looked like they had gangrene.  These prisoners were particularly unhealthy and obviously disease ridden.


The prison included around twenty cages, each had up to seventeen people in the individual concrete cells.  There were no blankets provided, but there was a filthy Muslim toilet with a tap directly next to it, the stench was so awful it reminded me of a sewer or a zoo.  Noisy industrial fans were in the walls, every two to three meters, along both sides of the building.  The noise was outrageously loud.  There were no windows in the building and the fluorescent lights stayed on twenty-four, seven.   The combination of the relentless, continual humming of the fans and screaming people was getting to me. I was afraid I would become crazy.


I was thrown into one of these cages (2 x 6m) and there were about twelve to fifteen prisoners of Indian, Thai, Malay and Myamar descent. The Indians were touching me as if they had never seen a white person before.  To the extent, that, four or five of these individuals were mauling me.  I felt as if they were trying to rape me.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an Iranian man handing out tobacco through a cage; he came over, yelled at the Indians and they abruptly stopped. I couldn’t believe my luck.


The stranger introduced himself as Ali. He said, “I will get the key off a young man called ‘Boy’”.  Half an hour later, he came back with the ‘Boy’, opened my cage door and moved me into his personal cell, where there were only six people.  I was extremely relieved but still crying, panicking and shaking.


I had been in this building for the worst forty minutes of my entire life.  Ali felt sorry for me, as I was the only white person and didn’t belong in that particular jail, being an Australian citizen.


It was obvious this ‘Ali’ character was paying the guards because he was telling everyone (including the guards) what to do.  Whilst in Ali’s cell, I discovered he had a high statue amongst the prisoners and guards, due to tobacco dealings.  Tobacco, being very valuable in a place like that.  Ali got around it by getting the guards to bring in the tobacco.


Several hours later I had calmed down and Ali gave me the run down of the establishment.  He knew a lot about Malaysia and their law.  He also explained to me that they could not keep me in this Malaysian prison for longer than fourteen days.  Ali told me horrific stories of the main prisons of Malaysia and said to me, “They don’t even keep animals in a zoo like this”.  I could smell and see people all around me, including one Indian in our cage smoking something on foil (presumably ice).  I was terrified I would get into trouble by the guards because this creep was smoking something illegal in my cell.  The rule of the place is: If one person gets caught everybody gets into trouble.  When Ali came back he kicked him out.


Every second, I worried and panicked because half of the prisoners were smoking herion and ice, the guards were the suppliers.  Most of the guards were really mean and some were wearing masks – as if there were a lot of diseased prisoners.  Were deceased and were being carried out by other prisoners. 


I was not allowed out of the cell except for when ‘Boy’ came and opened the door to let me out for drinking water.  Along with other inmates, I went into the guards’ office, I was instructed to squat down and wait for the guards to allow me to fill my water bottle. 


Still in Bukit Jalin Police, the third day bought me severe grief because I was without Ali.  As usual, I was waiting for water at the guards’ office.  One particular guard instructed me to sit on the chair next to him, he asked me all kinds of weird questions while making fun of me.  Suddenly, he ripped my pants down and kicked me off my chair.  He then grabbed my penis and was intending to bash me with his baton. Frightened, I pushed him aside, pulled my pants up and with the help of ‘Boy’ I ran to the door and entered the noisy block full of cages.


On returning to my cage, I told Ali (whom hated the guards because they were so corrupt and nasty, for example, he threw the bag of rotten fish and rice back at them after they had thrown it at us) what had just transpired and he ran into the office and was screaming and fighting with the guards for approx fifteen minutes.  Again, I was shaking, scared and my heart pounding, whilst a mob of prisoners heard Ali yelling, ran to him and backed him for a semi riot.  Ali came back with a lot of scratches, blood and bruises covering his face, arms and legs.


Meanwhile I was coming to terms my own personal hell, the fighting, yelling, screaming and arguing continued for another ten days and didn’t help with my mental attitude.  Ali said, “They will take you home, for sure.”  I was worried that the authorities would take me to the horrible prison that Ali had told me about.  I was hopeful that they could only keep me in Malaysia for fourteen days.


On the twenty sixth of March (2010), two Malaysian police officers came to Bukit Jalin Police prison and drove me to the Magistrates court.  I was not allowed to make phone calls or see the embassy people.  They left me handcuffed in a cell for several hours. They stood me in front of the judge (with no help or legal representation-it was not offered) and read out the Australian drug charges. The Malaysian national lawyers stood up and said, “We recommend that he stay at the Sungai Buloh Prison for the maximum one hundred days.”


On hearing this, my heart dropped and I was extremely devastated.

“Why was the Australian Government doing this to me in this country?

It has been two weeks and that’s when they had promised I could go home”.


After the hearing, the guards took me downstairs into a putrid stinking concrete cell.  On the way down, I observed prisoners smoking ice in the toilet, in the holding cells, under the Magistrates Court.  The cell was inhabited by horrible people; not only did some have manic ice driven episodes, most had sores, puss, cuts, bruises, dirt, blood and were generally unhealthy and maltreated.  I conversed with a few prisoners and they told me that the jail we were going to was hell.


I found out that many of the people were there for horrific crimes, this, and the thought of the unknown was scaring me. I really could not believe that this was happening to me.  “I would never have come near the place, if I knew Malaysia was like this.”


At the end of the day, the guards handcuffed me and attached me to a five-meter chain attached to fifty others.  They dragged us outside and shoved us into a big truck with no seats, still chained together. We were sitting on the floor and some crazy fucked up people were fighting, they were literally dragging us around the bed of the truck because of the chains.  The stupid driver of the truck was not making my anxious state any better; he was overtaking on mountains whilst driving as fast as he could, siren blaring for an hour and a half.


With a screeching stop, we ended up at a big prison in the middle of the jungle.  We were taken in and made to sit down on a concrete floor for six hours while being treated like shit.  They were military-commando-like guards and they were everywhere.  They were wearing masks and were called the ‘UKP’. 


The ‘UKP’ were mean looking and extremely violent towards everyone.  Some of them would look at me like they were about to bash me (and they did over the three months).  I was asked to do some paper work and as I looked at one of them he got aggressive.  He yelled, “Fuck you”. Then hit me repeatedly.


This place was disgustingly dirty; the ‘UKP’ shaved my hair with a dirty electric shaver that shaved thousands of others’ heads.  They gave us a cup, a piece of soap, a torn dirty piece of blanket and some foam.  We were sent into other rooms, where they stripped and searched us, all the time, yelling, screaming and asking questions. 


They then pushed us through a door and into some kind of cage like place with twenty-foot fences and razor wire everywhere.  There were blocks of cells with five to six hundred people.  It looked like a 1950’s prison from the movies – all concrete and steel.


We entered the quarantine section at around seven pm, which was occupied by eighty to one hundred people in one rectangular squared cell (5 x 20m).  Two Nigerian prisoners told me to stick with them and they found me a spot to sleep.  It was terrifying; people were running around screaming, prisoners bashing prisoners and prisoners smoking ice.  There was a real bad gang lurking at the back of the cell and not a guard to be seen. We were given no food or water.  The toilets consisted of three holes in the floor.  The place stunk because piss and shit was everywhere, even underfoot.  There was one big polluted plastic tub of water and a tap for everyone to wash themselves by using their cups and pouring the water over themselves.


After trying to sleep and tripping out all night, the guards came in, opened the door and allowed us to walk out and get a cup of tea from an old dirty barrel.  For lunch and dinner we were given some rice and two small rotten fish, which they served on an unwashed plastic tray.  The prisoners were supposed to wash their own plates but there was nothing to wash them with, which rarely happened.  I had to wait in this place for six days.


It was time to move into the permanent part of the prison and on the way out they made us sit in groups, they then called each person up and took blood samples with the same equipment.  The bloody instruments, for example, cotton balls were thrown on the ground.  I somehow avoided getting one of those dirty needles piercing me.


The cell I was thrown into (in the permanent sector) was rotten, the filthy toilet was blocked and the guards refused to fix it.  Six or seven Chinese men occupied the pungent cell; one of them spoke English, to my relief.  He told me how prisoners were hanging themselves in my previous cell and how corrupt the system is in Malaysia.  He said, “People are treated very badly in this place”.  Again, I was horrified of what I was seeing and hearing.


A few days had transpired and I was made to participate in military exercises, from nine to twelve each day.  The UKP guards dragged a group of prisoners into the middle of a field.  We were made to do all kinds of exercise, push ups, marching and running around the edge on hot ash felt with no shoes, whilst yelling Malaysian chants.  I tried to tell them that my back was giving up (I broke my back in 1997) and asked to be excused.   The UKP just yelled and screamed and told me to get back out there.


We were made to carry one another from one end of the field around the goalposts and back, taking it in turn.  The UKP were bashing the running people with their batons and kicking them in their stomachs.  I only copped a couple of hits on my head with a baton but repeatedly explained that I was an Australian citizen.  They were making fun of me.


“They couldn’t do that to me.” 


By the third day of military training my back became dreadfully painful.  I could not run and it was difficult to do anything.  On finishing an exhausting session, I was last in line.  They pulled the stragglers aside and tortured us for three hours.  It was as if the UKP guards were on a power trip, they yelled and screamed the whole time while making us lie down and roll all over the room. My back was killing me and I was hot and dizzy but I struggled on and sometimes crawled when they weren’t looking.  I felt like I was going to die. The ten guards were aiming their egos’ at me, they were yelling, “Fucking Australia”.  They thought they were funny and were laughing at me.


The UKP guards continuously raided cells in the middle of the night.  They were looking for anything including tobacco; if one person was smoking, everybody was locked up.  The idea of the completely dark solitary cells and moldy bread made me weary


Afterwards, I had had enough and asked the guards to see a doctor and the Australian embassy.  They allowed me to see the doctor at their so-called hospital and it was an absolute nightmare.  I had to squat down and was handcuffed as soon as I entered the building. I had to wait for two hours in a dirty, old room.  Some of the people I was waiting with looked half dead.


Finally on the fourth week, I saw the prison doctor, I told him my condition, and he requested that I go to the local town hospital but it wasn’t a week or two until they took me.  Secretly, I stood on a set of scales in the hospital and I was down to 58 kg.  The shorts I was wearing when this nightmare began were falling down on me now.  The hospital doctor gave me two blue paracetamol tablets and other unidentified tablets.


By this time I had spoken to the Australian Embassy and was told that my father had sent me some money so that I could buy some food in the store.  The expensive food was no better than what they had been serving in the cells.  Also, the embassy representative gave me a phone card. Except, I had to wait a week to make any phone calls or buy from the shop.


Throughout my whole time in the Sungai Buloh Prison, whenever I requested something, such as – a phone call to the embassy, the guards would yell and scream at me and make me squat down and beg.  Everything in this place was so difficult, to ask a question, to go outside, it was all difficult.


I told the embassy my worries about the shaving device.  They made me shave once a week with the same electric shaver that thousands of other diseased men used.  The guards were very mean and rough when it was my turn.  I was afraid of catching all types of diseases (and did) from the razor and requested to clean it but they wouldn’t let me.  I asked the embassy if I could get my own razor.  I said, “This is ridiculous, you can’t let them do this to me.” The embassy people replied, “We will see what we can do.”  I also asked for clean water as I was drinking rusty, highly chlorinated water. They did not give me much help because they did not even know what was going on.  I just had to use their filthy razor and hope I didn’t get HIV, HEP C or TB.


Eventually I was allowed to make a few phone calls to my family.  My father told me he was trying his best with my lawyer in Australia to bring me back home.  It felt good to talk to my people but it didn’t raise my spirits.


I was only allowed to leave my cell once a week for about three hours and was only getting ten to twenty minutes sleep a day.  I was sweating so much due to my high blood pressure.  I was only drinking a cup full of water every day because it was so dirty.


My mental state and the situation including the surroundings were causing my whole system to shut down.  I had not slept for several weeks and I was wetting myself in the night frequently.  My heart was pounding fast and loud constantly and I was sweating profusely.  I was getting really worried because people were dieing all around me.  In an adjoining cell with Iranian occupants, they asked if they could send their mate to the hospital.  The guards said no and their mate died. 


One night I got so bad (my veins were popping out all over my body), I was lying down, thinking, I was going to die.  One guard noticed, picked me up and took me to the so-called-prison-hospital. I was placed in a wheel chair and all of the other guards just stared at me.  


This time, I was given some more tablets; I awoke the next morning in a dirty, filthy, soiled, bloody bed.  This hospital was so disgusting and is difficult to describe.  There were patients with green all over them and wounds were oozing puss.  A cage of skinny, dirty men was up the back of the hospital, the AID’s people who were left there to die.


I told them to get me out of there but they wouldn’t sign off my release and I stayed for three nights.  I drank water from used yellow biohazard medical waste buckets.  The hospital was rat infested and disgustingly filthy.  I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t release me.


A crazy doctor came to see me and gave me two tablets (he didn’t say what they were) and said, “If you have them, you can go.”  I knew I shouldn’t, but I took them. They let me go back to my cell.  Immediately, I started feeling completely different.  Three hours later, in my cell, I started tripping out.  I asked another prisoner, “Why is everything so quiet?”  This was unusually strange because the entire prison was outrageously loud from sun up to two am.  Everything went really strange for me; I could sleep for the first time.


I am still not the same after those tablets and have since tried to find out what they were.


I now saw the doctor on a regular basis, along with many prisoners who were seeing the doctor once a week and receiving a range of tablets.  I assume that they were to get rid of scabies and there was the blue paracetamol tablets and laxatives.  I was blocked up from the terrible food, I had scabies, and I was feverish and was sick.  On one of these weekly visits to the doctor they grabbed me and injected me with something that made me awfully sick.


Again, I asked the embassy for bottled drinking water, they said, “We can not make any promises.”  I was so sick by this stage and I noticed people were filtering their water with cotton but I could not do this, as I was incapable due to my condition.  Some prisoners were giving me their filtered water because it was so obvious I was sick.  The Iranians told me that if you drink the water for a period of time, the water ruins parts of your bodily functions.  Also, he was showing me the water makes your skin peel badly.  I realized my skin was peeling.


Tamal Tiger terrorists and rebels resided in this prison and they started many fights and fires.  They caused major problems for the other inmates; they even stabbed a few people in their brawls.  Lucky they didn’t get me, as I was the only white person except for one young American, who came later.


I had to move cells several times, due to; too many Chinese in the first one and the toilet was blocked- it was disgusting, the next cell were full of Africans and they were just yelling and screaming every all night. 


During my time, I asked a few of the older, wiser inmates, if they had seen any Aussies in the Sungai Buloh Prison.  One answered, “There was one Australian man here before, about a year ago, he was only here for about ten days.”  They asked me with real concern, “Why is your country keeping you here? When you have done nothing wrong in this country?”


The Australian Embassy said I would be taken out in seven days and each day became more and more of a nightmare.  All up I was held for one hundred days, which felt like a lifetime.  I do have difficulty recounting the experience, which continues to trouble me and I will never get over it.  This whole experience has certainly caused me to reflect on my life because of my foolish ways.


I was exposed to the worst experience of my life. I now realize that I had a drug problem prior to the time I was held in prison.  Being held like I was alerted me to the risks of drugs.  Since my arrest and return to Australia I feel like I have come out of a ‘coma’.  I am so remorseful and grateful to be living at home with my father and going to work (with my brother) for a shop fitting company.