Medical takes on Qld FIFO

THE Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association has spoken out against compulsory fly-in, fly-out arrangements while Gryphon Psychology revealed that five Bowen Basin workers committed suicide over 12 months to April 2014.
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Detailed in its submission to the ongoing Queensland government FIFO inquiry, AMAQ revealed the findings of consultations with more than 100 doctors and medical practices who work with FIFO employees.

"The worst problems both for miners and townspeople are seen where compulsory FIFO is the norm," AMAQ president Dr Shaun Rudd said in the submission.

"AMA Queensland has found general agreement that we are witnessing major psycho-social disruption of families with detrimental effects on miners, their partners and children where relevant and associated other family members.

"In parallel, we witness major psycho-social disruption of other groups including small business and service industry personnel who set themselves up to supply goods and services to the mining industry and its miners only to be cast aside when compulsory FIFO became the rule.

"We also understand that FIFO miners living camps are actually contracted to not visit local towns even if they have family there."

Rudd also stressed the differences in impacts between compulsory and voluntary FIFO in his conclusion.

"It seems clear that the policy of compulsory FIFO is detrimental to the physical and mental wellbeing of miners and their families and to the mental wellbeing of the residents of the several small towns which have been directly affected by the policy of compulsory FIFO.

"Voluntary FIFO seems to be acceptable in that it allows those who wish to come from outside to do so and those who prefer to live close to the mine to do so."

Gyphon, which specialises in the resource industry market, revealed that its psychologists were deployed to respond to 50 critical incidents in the Bowen Basin in the 12 months to April 2014.

"These incidents related to events which occurred at both FIFO/drive-in drive-out and residential sites," Gryphon said in its submission to the FIFO inquiry.

"Of the 50 critical incidents that Gryphon Psychology responded to, 5 (1%) of these related to a suicide. Of this number 4 involved a residential worker and 1 related to a DIDO worker.

Gryphon also provided insights from its employment assistance program data.

"Across all client organisation groups the top three referral reasons for seeking help are consistent for FIFO, DIDO or residential employees," it said.

"The top three referral reasons accounting for over a third of referrals to EAP consist of depression/anxiety symptoms, relationships issues and family issues."

Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14.

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