The link between FIFO and depression revealed

Claims by industry groups that FIFO workers are no more prone to mental illness than other sections of community have been refuted by a new study.

Research carried out by Edith Cowan University (ECU) in WA showed that 28 per cent of respondants exhbited significant symptoms of depression, more than double the rate of people in the general population who suffer from moderate to high levels of depression, anxiety or stress, sitting at 13 per cent.

The study sampled 629 FIFO workers from 143 different resource companies, with 22 per cent suffering from depression and 9 per cent suffering from stress.

Lead researcher from ECU School of Business Phillipa Vojnovic said the rate was significantly higher, not only than the general population, but also higher than national statistics for rural and remote areas, and non-FIFO mining workers.

The study refutes claims made last year by the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) and other lobby groups that mental illness and self-harm was no more prevalent in the mining workforce than in other industries.

In a submission to the WA Legislative Assembly’s Education and Health Standing Committee Inquiry into Mental Health Impacts of FIFO Work Arrangements, the AMMA said it was cognisant of objective data that pointed to levels of mental illness in the mining sector.

Inquiry chairman Dr Graham Jacobs MLA said it was possible that equal time rosters could help to stem the prevalence of mental illness and suicide among FIFO workers.

The Inquiry began in 2014 after a spate of nine FIFO-related suicides occured over a 12 month period, however there has been little reporting on other industry suicides since then.

A final report from the inquiry is expected to be released this month, covering evidence collected from medical professionals, unions, industry lobby groups, mining companies, and worker support networks.

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