Fly-in fly-out workers are increasingly afraid to report mental health issues because they don’t want to be made redundant by struggling mining companies, a West Australian parliamentary inquiry has heard. The inquiry into the mental health of FIFO workers was prompted last year after nine people reportedly took their lives over a 12-month period. An interim report handed down in November found information about suicides among the FIFO community was unreliable. But anecdotal evidence presented by families and mental health experts suggests FIFO workers were at higher risk of anxiety, depression and suicide. Founders of support website This FIFO Life, Sue Crook and Julie Loveny, told the inquiry on Wednesday that there was rampant anxiety and stress across the resources industry because jobs were being cut. Ms Loveny said the stigma of mental illness in the industry meant no one would speak up about their issues in fear of being made redundant. She said there was a severe lack of compassion and misunderstanding towards mental illness, citing a recent incident when a supervisor told her suicide was “attention seeking behaviour”. It’s not that they have no understanding, it’s that the understanding they have is dangerous,” Ms Loveny said. The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has previously expressed the same concern.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.
This article and image first appeared WA Times, 25 February 2015.