WA Labor leader Mark McGowan called for the inquiry, saying that deaths in the mining industry attributed to mental health issues had reached crisis point and urgent action was needed. Last Thursday, he won the support of the Liberal and National parties.
The inquiry will be undertaken by the Education and Health Standing Committee, with an initial report expected by the end of the year.
The committee will examine the reasons behind the suicides of FIFO workers and will recommend initiatives which industry and government can take to reduce their prevalence.
Peter Miller, who spoke out about his son Rhys Connor’s death and how the (FIFO) lifestyle affects workers’ mental wellbeing, said the inquiry could be valuable, as long as it was not influenced by politics or the mining industry.
He hoped that:
1. The mining industry would give assurance that employees would not lose their jobs if they reported mental health problems.
2. A clean-up of the way safety statistics were defined, to alleviate false labelling and reporting of injuries.
3. It would become a legal requirement for the industry to document and report all incidents of mental health issues at mining sites to the mental health commissioner and for those reports to be available to professionals to collate true facts and figures.
4. A requirement for the FIFO industry to accept that the industry definitely contributes to the mental welfare of its employees due to site conditions, including long working hours, isolation from professional help, family and friends.