The West Australian
Updated June 13, 2013
Cultural and organisational change is needed in Australia's fly-in,
fly-out industry to tackle issues with mental health and emotional
wellbeing, a groundbreaking WA study has warned.
The research, by Lifeline WA and Edith Cowan University psychologists, identified numerous factors affecting workers mentally.
included high stress from longer periods working away, particularly for
those with young children, and disrupted sleep and fatigue from long
Companies employing FIFO workers needed to address the
"suck it up, princess" culture and build policies and services to
address workers' mental health needs and combat their reluctance to seek
help, the report's authors said.
"Workers did report a sense of
powerlessness about their ability to exercise control over their lives
in the tightly regimented confines of the FIFO working environment," the
Workers felt vulnerable to intensive scrutinising, intimidation by higher management and the threat of job loss.
They said they had no control after working hours and were not free to move around or have meals at preferred times.
report said workers also felt trapped because they were financially
committed in accordance with their current income and so could not quit.
recommendations included targeted support, for example, for workers
over 50 who were less likely to seek help, pre-FIFO training to show new
employees what to expect and post-employment support to reduce the
stigma of getting help for mental health problems and to help people
The Australian Institute of Management WA will use the
findings to develop, with Lifeline WA, programs to help managers and
workers improve FIFO and drive-in, drive-out experiences.
research compiled views from 924 FIFO and DIDO workers - 81 per cent
men, 80 per cent 49 years old or younger and half parents.
Australia WA holds one-night seminars for couples considering or who
recently started FIFO work. For dates and information, visit
wa.relationships.com.au. WA parenting organisation Ngala also offers
advice and a workshop for families with a parent working away.
Information is available at ngala.com.au.