Mum sees upside in FIFO

Anna Rushton is a mother of a second-generation fly-in, fly-out family.

She said life with her husband and three sons is slightly different compared to when she kept in contact with her marine engineer father through a satellite phone.

Speaking to The West Australian yesterday as her three sons played at Auskick, Ruston said being part of a FIFO family had made her realise the challenges her mother had faced much before the FIFO epidemic WA is seeing today.

Her sons missing their father, she missing her husband Ryan and sleepless nights were some of the drawbacks she saw in a FIFO life.

The FIFO lifestyle has received a lot of bad press in the recent past. BHP's recent decision to hire a 100 per cent FIFO workforce drew fire from locals, unions as well as the wider mining community.

It was reported last week a study into the wellbeing of FIFO workers found the 'harden up' culture was affecting the mental health of FIFO workers.

The research by Lifeline WA and Edith Cowan University psychologists found stress, anxiety, divorce, drug and alcohol use, and a sense of helplessness were rampant in the workforce.

But after the initial hurdles, Rushton said the advantages of the FIFO lifestyle outweighed the drawbacks, making it worthwhile.

She wanted to share her experiences with other families contemplating a transition to the FIFO lifestyle, saying it a huge change of Australian family life.

She is starting a website and a consultancy, FIFO Success, to assist couples in choosing on a FIFO lifestyle and whether it was right for them.

“My passion for doing that is not a financial one,” she said.

“It’s just trying to help other people succeed because there is so much negativity out there and it’s the biggest upcoming sort of industry.”

She said five years of living the FIFO life had equipped her with coping mechanisms. The money in FIFO meant she could manage to look after the children.

Also, when her husband came home, he could spend days with his children, which many fathers cannot do if they work long hours and came home after children went to sleep.

Her coping strategies included prioritising, organisational tips, approach to taking care of ore than one child at a time, focusing on her own health and getting enough sleep and rest.

A women's mining group said blaming FIFO rosters for breaking relationships is a 'cop-out', and added many employees love the arrangement.

The group launched a campaign called 'The Other Side of FIFO' to expose the positive side of FIFO lifestles.

A project at The University of Queensland examined the impact of FIFO and DIDO work on children and families in Queensland.

The research, titled Working Parents Research Project focused on workers and their partners with a child aged between two and 12 years old.

It was based at UQ's Parenting and Family Support Centre.