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1. It can negatively impact relationships
When most people think of FIFO (fly in fly out lifestyle where workers are away from their families for weeks or months at a time) they think of tonnes of cash coming in, big houses, nice cars, private school. What they don't consider is even though that couple is together/married doesn't mean they actually spend that much time together. Often the FIFO partner who is at home, is managing everything on their own like a single parent but with a pay check. They are the only one getting up to the kids, doing the school runs, playing referees or managing the house and bills. Often in FIFO relationships, the other half comes home and struggles to connect with the kids and the partner. They live a somewhat single life almost military lifestyle and struggle to fall into the family routine. Often these struggles can lead to relationship breakdowns and sometimes being unfaithful.
2. Mental illness is rife
A lot of FIFO jobs require long periods away from loved ones meaning a feeling of isolation and disconnect. Often workers are out of phone range, internet and devoid of family contact for weeks at a time. It can also feel like groundhog day and depending on the camp and often being male dominated, there could be a lack of emotional support and a boozy culture which creates extra risk. On top of the workers being at risk, the partner back home can also suffer. Mother's raising their babies without their partners around are at risk of post natal depression or anxiety. Sometimes they are living in states with no family or friends close by so their significant others can fly out of a particular capital for work. There is also a high suicide risk in this industry.
3. You earn more money but end up spending a lot more.
FIFO workers can generally expect to pay a huge amount of tax based on their high income bracket. They often pay for flights back and forth ( not tax deductible) as jobs become more competitive and companies offer less. Some of these flights can cost $1000 each way depending on the location and time of year. Because of the income bracket, medication, child care, medical bills, private health and insurance cost more. Not only do they cost more because families aren't entitled to healthcare cards or child care rebates but the stress related illnesses mean they are likely to spend more on healthcare. They may also require specialised life and trauma insurance and income protection, none of which comes cheaply.
4. Work is rarely full time or permanent
Majority of jobs are casual or contract meaning that while the money will be good for a while it could be terminated at any time. This is incredibly stressful for families who have specific expenses to meet and often any surplus is banked in case of job loss and they are unable to relax and enjoy themselves in case a mine dries up or there is a employee cull.
5. Its dangerous
Depending on the job the workers are generally in high risk jobs. From working underground and at risk of ground collapses, dealing with or around explosives, heavy and dangerous machinery or at risk as well as long hours requiring proper body care and fatigue management . Often partners are left in states of anxiety if they can't reach their partners within a 24 hour period unless notified beforehand.
6. FIFO people need to stick together
There are books, resources, Facebook groups and more all dedicated to supporting the hard work that FIFO workers and their partners go through. If you are a FIFO worker or partner, make sure you put yourself in these supportive networks. Not only do you have people that can relate to your lifestyle, its a good way to make friends, be at the forefront of any accident reporting or work available.
If you are a FIFO partner I strongly recommend reading the book "Separated by work" by Kirstie O'Callaghan who yours truly has a mini contribution to. Famous!
Last but not least if you know someone who is a FIFO worker or a partner, find out what you can do to support them. As a once FIFO wife, we come across as strong women and men but often we are cracking at the seams and having someone notice and help out with a meal, letting us getting some rest to recharge or just a chat can make all the difference, especially when there are children involved.