Rural Sector News Stigma Reduction — 06 November 2014

There is a “toughen up princess” attitude on work sites that prevents some fly-in fly-out workers from seeking help for mental health problems, a union says.mining-440743_1280

The West Australian government’s education and health standing committee is conducting an inquiry into the mental health impacts of FIFO work and heard from several speakers on Wednesday.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Mick Buchan said in a statement there was a macho attitude on sites, so workers were often too scared to raise concerns for fear their employment would be threatened.

Mr Buchan said there needed to be independent support structures, shorter roster lengths, better communication services, more regulation and a pathway back to work for those who had experienced a mental health issue.

FIFO Families founder and director Nicole Ashby says people don’t realise the impact the lifestyle can have on workers’ mental health and the pressure on their families who live without them for extended periods.

“The first six months of FIFO work is make or break,” Ms Ashby told AAP.

“Support for the worker’s partner at home and the family unit is so important.”

WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy deputy chief executive Nicole Roocke said despite reports of nine suicides among FIFO workers in the Pilbara in the past 12 months, that figure had not been substantiated, nor causal factors identified.

She said there was evidence to suggest suicides in FIFO workers were occurring at a similar rate to that of the state and well below those in the regions.

This article first appeared on ‘Yahoo!7 News’ on 6 November 2014.


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