By Rachel Dally-Watkins

12 May, 2015

AS the WA and Queensland governments prepare the findings of two separate reviews on fly in, fly out workers amid a resources downturn, support network FIFO Families has warned the industry not to be distracted from the key issues.

In June, the WA Government will outline the findings of its inquiry into the link between FIFO work arrangements and suicide; while the Queensland Government is reviewing two 100 per cent FIFO operations to determine the allowable percentage of FIFO workers on mining sites in the state.

The use of 100 per cent FIFO workforces in Queensland has been a controversial issue for some time, with many arguing the practice takes opportunities away from locals.

FIFO Families’ founder Nicole Ashby highlighted the additional “stress and anxiety” the publicity surrounding these reviews could cause for workers and their families, recommending that the focus instead remain on how best to balance individual, community and commercial needs on remote mining locations.

“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,” Ms Ashby 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… adds to existing stress levels and concern.

“What we need is a collaborative approach that can ensure that the interests of energy and resources organisations, their workers, families and remote communities can all be 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.

“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.”