Relationships at distance

Mandurah has one of the highest rates of FIFO workers.

A study Socio-economic Impact of Long Distance Commuting (LDC) on Source Communities by Aileen Hoath and Fiona Haslam McKenzie was released last year. The study surveyed Mandurah families.

The findings included:

– Most individuals and families who make the choice cope well with a LDC lifestyle.

– A number who decide that it is not for them leave quickly, others opt in and out over time.

– A high number intensely dislike aspects of the workplace or lifestyle but are trapped by heavy financial commitments made on the basis of an ongoing LDC income, or by the lack of viable employment alternatives at their place of residence.

– Sense of wellbeing and ability to transition smoothly between home and work is influenced by length of work block, ratio and regularity of time on/time off, mix and length of shifts, opportunities to rest before flying, and length and complexity of commute arrangements.

– LDC workers, like everyone, need support at times, and governments and companies encouraging growth of long-distance residents have an obligation to provide for them adequately.

Source: Hoath, A. and Haslam McKenzie F (2013) The socio-economic impacts of long distance commuting on source communities. Perth, Co-operative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation and Curtin Graduate School of Business.

The City of Mandurah contributed to a discussion on FIFO on the local community in 2011.

Issues raised included:

– The mining industry paid well, but overseas research showed conditions can affect the lifestyle and health of miners, their partners and families.

– Key deficiencies in the FIFO household included a lack of emotional support, reduced household safety and reduced spousal quality time.

– Anecdotal evidence suggests that Mandurah has large numbers of FIFO, which is leading to social isolation for many in the community, particularly those who come to Mandurah from other States or countries.

But the submission also referred to a study that found FIFO lifestyles encouraged personal independence and freedom, the adventurous spirit and mateship among workers. The study by Susan Clifford found no direct correlation between FIFO employees and stress, general health and family dysfunction.