Changing FIFO fortunes

FLY-in, fly-out workers are under pressure from three fronts because of the industry downturn, cutbacks and separate FIFO inquiries in Western Australia and Queensland.
Changing FIFO fortunes Changing FIFO fortunes Changing FIFO fortunes Changing FIFO fortunes Changing FIFO fortunes

While the WA inquiry into FIFO mental health issues was triggered by FIFO worker suicides, with findings expected in June, the other state inquiry into FIFO followed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's call for an end to 100% FIFO rostering during her unexpectedly successful election campaign in January.

Nicole Ashby, founder and director of support group FIFO Families, is concerned that the publicity around the inquiries combined with the continued downsizing of the mining industry had the potential to add further stress and anxiety to the lives of workers and families whose livelihoods were built around a FIFO-based occupation.

"It is easy to forget that some 100,000 Australian families have adapted their lives to cope with the disruption, dislocation and stresses that come with a key family member being away from the family unit for an extended period on a regular basis," she said.

"In the current economic conditions, we are already seeing a number of workers lose their jobs and have their rosters cut. Creating further uncertainty regarding the potential for more of these workers to have to pick up their lives and relocate to remote communities or lose their jobs altogether. This further adds to existing stress levels and concern."

She said a collaborative approach was needed to ensure the interests of energy and resources organisations, their workers, families and remote communities were all served "if/when the boom times return".

"We are currently working in collaboration with a large health insurer and an occupational health risk software company to create a holistic package from which the unique physical and psychological health risks associated with FIFO workers can be better managed," she said.

"This package will provide a flexible and innovative approach to ensuring that the commercial interests of Employers, the personal/family needs of workers and the impact on regional communities can all be balanced in a mutually beneficial way."

The BHP Billiton-operated Daunia and Caval Ridge mines are the only 100% FIFO-based coal mines in Queensland.