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Friday, July 19, 2024

FIFO Lifestyle: Things You Need To Know

Since the end of the 1980’s, the world has experienced a resources boom that has seen thousands of families impacted by fly in fly out (FIFO) work. The FIFO lifestyle includes workers flying to non-residential gas, oil and mining operations to work ten to fourteen hour shifts for two to six weeks at a time.Whilst the financial incomes from this kind of work are substantial the undesirable impact this type of work is having on individuals, couples and family units is becoming hard to ignore. The FIFO lifestyle often requires workers flying out to stay in remote locations with hundreds of other men and women in basic, but fully serviced accommodation, working many hours with the opportunity to wind down after a long shift at the “wet mess” with other co-workers. This lifestyle is pretty much different from the life they lead at home with their families.

However, fly in fly out mining flights make it safe and comfortable for workers to travel to and from their destination with less hassles. Keep reading this article to find out more about the FIFO lifestyle.

The Expat FIFO Professional

Whilst many FIFO employees do work in various remote regions of Australia, there are also a fair few who work at places which are dangerous to visit. Companies running mining operations in places such as Indonesia or Africa find it very hard to locally source the types of skills and training required to run these operations. This comes with a demand for FIFO mining professionals from more advanced mining countries like Australia. Many of these experts choose FIFO over relocating their families for various reasons – security, political instability, education, living standards, or for other basic needs. However, there are also mining professionals who wish to relocate overseas with their families, particularly for long-term positions. This international expat mining community, whether FIFO or residential, is crucially important for many reasons. It provides qualified staffing for operations in countries that would otherwise find it impossible to get enough people on board to operate a mine. These mining expats also often provide on job training and advice that is not available for local workers.

Why choose FIFO?

In Australia, the reason for this preponderance of FIFO workers is due to the vast distances and extreme remoteness of most of the country’s resource sites. But however, FIFO wasn’t always the easiest or popular way of staffing these remote mining sites. Up until the mid to late 1900s, most mining companies either utilized the closest local town, developing and expanding it to accommodate semi-permanent relocation of their workers and families, or they purpose-built new mining company towns. Some of these towns are still vibrant, thriving communities today long after mining operations have closed down. They were able to diversify and residents found other sources of employment. Other towns, unable to do this, closed down along with the mining operations responsible for their construction.

Building your own town and having to be responsible for maintaining it however is expensive and it can take a long time to get the required approvals. Then there is the added problem of trying to get qualified personnel to relocate with their families to some of these remote locations. With the advent of affordable, reliable, and rapid transportation many mining companies started to fly workers in from other areas on a temporary basis. The workers would work a number of days or weeks on site then fly home for a short time before flying back to the site to complete another roster cycle. FIFO had arrived! For the mining companies, it was cheaper to do this and house these workers in purpose-built camps than it was to build and maintain small towns.

For the FIFO worker, it meant they didn’t have to uproot their entire family. They could enjoy the benefits of having a very well-paid job whilst still enjoying the benefits of urban living. It gave them a lifestyle they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford to work on ‘city’ salaries. It also made it easier to change jobs or relocate to another mining site when the only thing that really had to change was which plane you hopped on to where. Your family life remained unchanged.

The FIFO Lifestyle And Family Life

Many experimental studies have found that the families, and particularly with the children, of many FIFO workers, cope remarkably well considering they virtually have 2 lives – one when only one parent is home and one when both parents are home. A lot of how a FIFO lifestyle affects their family life depends on how the family as a unit manages the transitions between these 2 lives they lead. Some children of FIFO workers do report feeling sad or anxious when the FIFO parent leaves for work but on the whole, most of them deal with it well.

On the other side of the coin, there are also those families, and children, who do not cope well. And the common theme arising out of the studies done thus far on this topic is that there is a lot more research needed to fully explore, and understand, all the various effects of a FIFO lifestyle on all parties involved. And on all aspects of their lives – family, social, and work.

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