The FIFO lifestyle can affect the mental health of workers, their families and the feeling of entire towns.
The FIFO lifestyle can affect the mental health of workers, their families and the feeling of entire towns. APN PHOTO LIBRARY

Mental health impacts more than just FIFO workers

IT IS not just mine workers at compulsory fly-in, fly-out workplaces that are at greater risk of mental health problems.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland has warned in a submission to a FIFO parliamentary inquiry that workers' families and even residents of small towns can suffer.

Many of the health organisation's members treat FIFO workers on a regular basis.

They have found the workers have poorer mental health primarily because they are away from their families for extended periods.

Some people suffer depression because they fear their partners back home will leave the relationship, while others say they feel isolated.

Workers' families, particularly their children, are also found to be at greater risk of suffering from mental health problems.

"Increased behavioural problems and negative emotions can be the result of a FIFO parent's extended absences, and this is especially the case among boys," AMA Queensland's submission said.

"FIFO children also reportedly experience greater instances of bullying at school, and feel an increased pressure to succeed academically."

AMA Queensland also found people living in townships where the mine accepted voluntary FIFO were in some cases experiencing high levels of social stress and misery.

But the health body said voluntary FIFO was better than compulsory FIFO.

It also said some people thrived under the FIFO working system.

The Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service said in its inquiry submission that it was difficult to treat FIFO workers because they were not well-known to staff and had no medical history on record.

CQHHS also noted a lack of family support and difficulties following up with patients.

Fatigue and weight problems were also touched upon as other health issues.

The inquiry will hold hearings in Mackay on June 15, Gladstone on June 18 and Rockhampton on June 19.


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