DBCA social scientists interviewing Esperance Tjaltjraak Aboriginal Rangers on country.
DBCA social scientists interviewing Esperance Tjaltjraak Aboriginal Rangers on country.

Social research helps us better understand issues related to DBCA’s programs, enhance decision making and improve the effective and timely delivery of services.

Key activities and projects include:

  • visitation monitoring, visitor statistics and targeted social research
  • State-wide visitor satisfaction monitoring
  • marine human use monitoring
  • Aboriginal Ranger Program evaluation
  • coordinating DBCA’s involvement with external social research providers.

Proposed social and visitor research to be conducted on Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters requires prior approval before research begins. 

For more information about social research, please email Social Science Coordinator Amanda Smith.

What is social science?

Social research in this context is defined as research that improves our understanding of how people respond to the environment and protected areas.

Social science contributes to an understanding of people’s attitudes and behaviours towards the environment. It allows us to understand how people respond to the environment, wildlife and protected areas. It also allows us to maintain and enhance the values that contribute to people’s appreciation and enjoyment of protected areas.

Social science is multidisciplinary in nature. It incorporates visitor data and use, and understanding the impact of visitor activities on the environment and surrounding communities. It also includes research into park/community relations and aspects of Aboriginal involvement.

Park visitor statistics

The graphs below show visitor satisfaction levels and total visits within Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters.

The 2020–21 visitor satisfaction index, averaged from visitor responses to surveys at selected parks, reserves and forest areas around the State, was 93.2 per cent.

Visitor satisfaction levels within Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters

Figure 1 Visitor satisfaction levels within Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters

Note: In 2019–20 an exemption from reporting visitor satisfaction was granted due to the impact of COVID-19.

During 2020–21, there were 21.25 million visits to Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters, an increase from 19.68 million last year.

Total visits to Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters

Figure 2 Total visits to Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters

Note: Data in this graph is taken from DBCA's Visitor Statistics (VISTAT) database and is a true and correct record of best available data from the VISTAT database at the time of preparing the visitation figure for the annual report. As VISTAT is a live database, corrections and amendments are made on an ongoing basis so the figures presented here may differ from those presented in previous reports. 

Conducting social research in parks

Proposed social and visitor research to be conducted on Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands and waters, including interviews with DBCA employees, requires approval before research begins.

DBCA’s Visitor and Market Research Unit is responsible for coordinating the department's involvement and works in partnership with various external research providers, such as universities and consultants, relevant to social science and visitor research including research collaborations, research approvals and student support.

External research providers, including students, are required to:

  • provide advice of intent to conduct social research on land/water administered by Parks and Wildlife, which includes interviews with Parks and Wildlife employees, and 
  • apply for a fee waiver (where applicable) for the purpose of research. 

How to apply

To submit your advice of intent to conduct social research on land/water administered by Parks and Wildlife, please apply by completing the online request form.

Apply now

As part of the application ensure you have:

  • research contact details
  • supervisor contact details (where applicable), 
  • project details including description, aims, methods, outcomes and outputs
  • an electronic copy of any questionnaire or other survey instrument to be used in the study, and
  • an electronic copy of human ethics approval. 

If not in an institution where there is a human ethics committee, researchers will be asked to complete a statement to agree to conduct research in line with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007 - updated 2018).

Allow at least four weeks for processing of applications. You will be notified of the outcome by email. If park entry fees are applicable for the park/s you are proposing to conduct your research in, you will be advised on the process to apply for a fee waiver once the application has been approved. 

Any queries should be directed to:

Parks and Visitor Services, Visitor and Market Research
Attn: Social Science Coordinator
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
Parks and Wildlife Service 
email: amanda.smith@dbca.wa.gov.au
 

Page reviewed 20 Dec 2021