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FIFO workers: travel costs considered otherwise deductible Report by PwC

Authors Cameron, R, Lewis, J and Pfeiffer, L.
Title The FIFO Experience: A Gladstone case study
Year 2014
Journal/book details Australian Bulletin of Labour Vol. 40 No. 2 2014
Abstract The aim of this article is to explore the historic and contemporary use of non-resident workers (NRWs) in the Gladstone region, how this has contributed to the region’s development, and the economic and social impacts of the use of Fly-in Fly-out (FIFO) employment practices. Gladstone, in Central Queensland, is at the front and centre of Australia’s evolving economic growth with some $45 billion of investment being delivered in the region. Recently, the construction of three coal seam gas and liquefied natural gas (CSG and LNG) projects on Curtis Island in Gladstone harbour has placed enormous pressure on the region in terms of unprecedented labour and housing demands. It has seen the extensive use of FIFO and Drive-in Drive-out (DIDO) workers. An exploratory qualitative approach framed by key concepts in the literature on resource dependence and socio-economic well-being and, in particular, the fly-over effects of utilising large-scale FIFO labour practices is used in this study. A case study research design has been utilised involving archival and documentary analysis, and a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews with community stakeholders. Recent research into the socio-economic impacts on regional resource-dependent regions across Australia points to a shift away from the ‘resource curse’ hypothesis (Lawrie et al. 2011, Tonts et al. 2012). We argue that the Gladstone story is unique and is differentiated from the atypical story of the company-built inland mining town, due to a number of contextual variables. Key issues from multiple perspectives are identified and recommendations for future research are made.
Authors This report has been prepared by the Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change at Edith Cowan University. The principal contributors to the report are Associate Professor Pamela Henry, Dr Karine Hamilton, Stuart Watson, and Nicole Macdonald.
Title FIFO/DIDO Mental Health Research Report 2013
Year 2013
Journal/book details Report
Executive summary The authors are grateful to the numerous participants, including organisations and individuals within the FIFO industry and wider Perth community, who assisted in various aspects of the research process. Their assistance contributed to the development of research instruments, helped facilitate participant recruitment and created the large pool of FIFO participants whose experiences of FIFO work informed the research findings. Research assistants played an important role in collecting and analysing data, such as Jo Lilly, and their assistance was invaluable throughout the research process. Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that this research could not have been conducted without funding provided by Lifeline WA via Raw Hire. Executive Summary The Sellenger Centre for Research in Law, Justice and Social Change at Edith Cowan University was commissioned by Lifeline WA to conduct research regarding Fly-in-Fly-Out/Drive-in-Drive-Out (FIFO) worker supports. The research aimed to identify the stressors associated with FIFO work and the ways in which FIFO workers cope with these stressors. The research further sought to reveal which services would best meet the needs of FIFO workers. A mixed method approach was used which included the completion of a survey by 924 FIFO workers and the conduct of interviews with a sample of 18 FIFO workers. Quantitative survey findings: key points The respondents were 924 FIFO/DIDO workers, comprising predominantly males (81.2%) and almost exclusively Caucasian (86.5%). Roughly, eighty per cent of respondents were aged 49 years or younger. One in ten respondents were divorced and half of the sample were parents. Regarding support services, one in five workers claimed their industry did not have on-site mental health or on-site counselling facilities and one in ten reported their industry as not having an Employment Assistance Program (EAP). Female workers were more likely to access an EAP, on-site mental health and counselling services, self-help information, and their supervisors, friends and family as support structures. While younger workers reported a likelihood to access on-site counselling, older workers were less likely to talk to friends during times of stress. Tradespersons and professionals were more likely to access hometown mental health services. Single respondents working high compression roster rotations were more likely to access telephone crisis lines as support structures. A significant number of FIFO workers were not likely to make use of any mode of mental health information and services; however, differences between demographic groups did exist. Low compression rotation workers were least likely to use any of the modes of mental health information and services. Older workers were less likely 7 to use mental health information and services available online, whereas younger workers reported a likelihood to access information and services using these modes. All workers reported getting along very well with the people around them at both work and at home. High compression rotation workers who were parents reported the lowest relationship quality with family and friends compared to high compression workers who were not parents, and low compression workers who were both parents and not parents. Overall, workers reported engaging in fewer non-effective coping behaviours compared to effective coping behaviours (3 versus 4, respectively). Withdrawing emotionally and ignoring personal needs were the predominant non-effective coping behaviours. Respondents working high compression rotations and those who were partnered reported engagement in the most non-effective coping behaviours. Lower levels of job satisfaction were reported by labourers compared to all other occupation types. Parents reported higher job satisfaction than workers who were not parents. High compression rotation workers reported higher K-10 scores compared to those working lower compression rotations, and their K-10 scores were more prevalent within the “likely to have a severe disorder” range. Partnered workers reported higher levels of overall stress compared to singles. During rotation, stress generally increased and was reported at highest levels in the days leading up to leaving for work, and reduced steadily while away, dropping to lowest levels upon returning home. Females’ stress levels reduced to lower levels upon arriving home, compared to men’s stress levels, and professional workers who reported higher stress the day before leaving work compared to all other occupation types. Workers earning $200 000+ reported higher levels of stress while at work. Higher compression rotation and partnered workers reported higher stress in the lead up to leaving for work compared to lower compression workers and singles, respectively. Workers with no children reported lower levels of stress upon returning home compared to workers with children.
Authors Philippa Vojnovic, Grant Michelson, Denise Jackson, and Susanne Bahn*, Centre for Innovative Practice
Title Adjustment, Well-being and Help-seeking Among Australian FIFO Mining Employees
Year 2014
Journal/book details Australian Bulletin of Labour Vol. 40 No. 2 2014 pp. 242-261
Astract or executive summary The theme of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employment arrangements has attracted considerable policy and media interest, yet there is limited knowledge about the impact of such employment on workers and how they might manage the various strains associated with FIFO work. To advance this line of research, this article examines the antecedent factors of and relationships between adjustment, well-being, and help-seeking among FIFO employees. Our primary contribution is to develop a model and a series of propositions which will assist researchers, the industry, and policy-makers to understand the complex circumstances and impacts of FIFO employment better.
FIFO research papers of note:Blackman, A., et al. (2014). Workers’ perceptions of FIFO work in North Queensland, Australia. Australian Bulletin of Labour, 40(2), 180.Bradbury, G.S. (2011). Children and the fly-in/fly-out lifestyle: Employment-related paternal absence and the implications for children (PhD). Perth, Australia: Curtin University.Clifford, S. (2009). The Effects of Fly-in/Fly-out Commute Arrangements and Extended Working Hours on the Stress, Lifestyle, Relationship and Health Characteristics of Western Australian Mining Employees and Their Partners: Preliminary Report of Research Findings. Perth, Australia: University of Western Australia.

Cooke, D., et al. (2015). Fly-in-fly-out families’ experience of mental health and relationship problems during pregnancy, in ICCFR 62th Annual International Conference: Changing Times: Impact of Time on Family Life. Berlin, Germany: Publisher.

Gallegos, D. (2006). Aeroplanes always come back: Fly-in fly-out employment: Managing the parenting transitions. Murdoch, Western Australia: Murdoch University, Centre for Social and Community Research.

Gent, V. M. (2004). The impact of Fly-In/Fly-Out work on well-being and work-life satisfaction (Doctoral dissertation, Murdoch University).

Harvey, B. (2013). Exploring the impacts of Fly-In, Fly-out practices on employees’ mental health and wellbeing (Unpublished Master’s dissertation). Perth, Australia: Murdoch University.

Joyce, S.J., et al. (2013). Health behaviours and outcomes associated with fly-in fly-out and shift workers in Western Australia. Internal Medicine Journal, 43(4), 440-444.

Kaczmarek, E. A., & Sibbel, A. M.  (2008). The psychosocial well-being of children from Australian military and fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) mining families. Community, Work  & Family, 11(3), 297-312. Available at:

KPMG. (2013). Analysis of the long distance commuter workforce across Australia. Melbourne, Australia: KPMG.
Lee, S. (2014). The Change in Routines: Is Dividion of Labour a Relationship Issue for Fly-In/Fly-Out Couples? (Masters in Applied Psychology (Organisational)). Perth, Australia: Murdoch University.

McPhedran, S., & De Leo, D. (2014). Relationship Quality, Work-Family Stress, and Mental Health Among Australian Male Mining Industry Employees. Journal of Relationships Research, 5, null-null. doi: doi:10.1017/jrr.2014.3

Meredith, V., P. Rush, & E. Robinson. (2014). Fly-in fly-out workforce practices in Australia: The effects on children and family relationships. Australian Institute of Family Studies. Paper no. 19.

Oosthuizen, J. (2015). Health surveillance and chemical risks to families of FIFO workers. 1st inaugural FIFO Australian Community of Excellence (FACE) Forum, 19th March, Perth, Australia.

Parkes, K., Carnell, S. C., & Farmer, E. L. (2005). Living two lives: Perceptions, attitudes and experiences of spouses of UK offshore workers. Community, Work and  Family, 8(4), 413-437.

Petsonk, E., et al. (1995). Airway responsiveness and job selection: a study in coal miners and non-mining controls. Occupational and environmental medicine, 52(11), 745-749.

Pini, B., & Mayes, R. (2012). Gender, emotions and Fly-in Fly-out work. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 47, 71-86.

Pirotta, J. (2009). An exploration of the experiences of women who FIFO. The Australian Community Psychologist, 21(2), 37-51.

Sibbel, A.M. (2010). Living FIFO: The experiences and psychosocial wellbeing of Western Australian fly-in/fly-out employees and partners (Unpublished PhD thesis). Perth, Australia: Edith Cowan University.

Taylor, J., & Simmonds, J. (2009). Family stress and coping in the fly-in fly-out workforce. The Australian Community Psychologist, 21(2), 23-36.

Torkington, A.M., S. Larkins, & T.S. Gupta, The psychosocial impacts of fly‐in fly‐out and drive‐in drive‐out mining on mining employees: A qualitative study. Australian journal of rural health, 2011. 19(3): p. 135-141.

Vojnovic, P. (December 2014), ‘Managing Work-Related Suicide of Fly-In/Fly-out  Employees’ in the Australian Mining Industry’, 28th Annual Conference of the  Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), 3-5th  December, Sydney, Australia.

Voysey, W. (2012). Satisfaction with a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) lifestyle: Is it related to rosters, children and support resources utilised by Australian employees and partners and does it impact on relationship quality and stress? (BA(Hons)), Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA.