Research Change

Jobs & commuting in outer growth areas

National Growth Areas Alliance

Project Highlights

An analysis of census, travel and economic data to help inform decision making for our outer growth suburbs

Shining a light on the individual, family and community impacts of long distance commutes for work

The bottom line

Measuring the impact of long commutes on local economies and the health and wellbeing of residents in Australia’s outer growth suburbs using a data driven approach

The Challenge:

The National Growth Areas Alliance (NGAA) is the peak body for Australia’s fast-growing outer suburbs. The NGAA advocate for better outcomes for member councils and their residents living in outer growth suburbs.

The impact of social isolation and working from home as a result of COVID19 has had different impacts depending on industry, occupation and age. In order to understand the impact of working from home, identify key risks for outer growth councils as well as opportunities, a framework is needed to quantify the scale of jobs that have been impacted.

NGAA required an evidence based analysis on the impact of commuting outlining the key workforce and commuting characteristics for urban outer growth areas.

What we did:

We looked at available data to understand the impact of long commutes on local economies and the health and wellbeing of residents – as individuals, within families and the community. The project prepared estimates of the cost savings for outer growth council economies.

Research also considered the impacts of COVID-19 disruption, which has shown many people can work from home rather than spend hours commuting.

The research was informed by spatial analysis of Census data at local, state and national levels, travel data including public transport and google travel, economic data and a rapid evidence review identifying the range of social and health impacts of long commutes.

The final report combined key messages with high impact visualisations and infographics to easily communicate and demonstrate the key challenges long commutes present to outer growth suburbs.


  • Research report focusing on the macro-level analysis of commuter and employment patterns in growth areas across Australia, published on the NGAA’s website
  • Presentation of findings at a virtual research launch – The growth areas experience of working from home.
  • Media coverage of the key findings of the research by ABC News, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, regional radio and TV.

Client testimonials:

“It’s been a good opportunity to put the concerns of growth area councils to a wider audience, and to continue a conversation about the benefits, opportunities and challenges of working from home for people living in Australia’s outer urban growth areas.”