In defence of the FIFO lifestyle

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"Governments of all levels must acknowledge that, for some communities, particularly those traditional resource communities, and others in quite developed areas, fly-in, fly-out is a cancer."

– Federal Independent MP Tony Windsor in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia report on FIFO/DIDO work practices in Australia.
February 2013

By Mining Family Matters founder Alicia Ranford

The resources industry has been great to my family. After almost 20 years with my mining partner (and looking back over all the moves, the ups and the downs) I still marvel at what an adventure it has been. So when FIFO was described by Independent MP Tony Windsor as a "cancer" I felt (as I’m sure many of you did) a little deflated. 

For the vast majority of resource families, it's a huge decision to do FIFO or DIDO. How will it affect our relationship? What will it mean for the children? How will we cope? Is there an alternative? My husband and I have lived in several residential mining towns, and he's also done FIFO in 11 out of the last 20 years. We've carefully weighed up the positives and negatives each time, and it's fair to say that both FIFO and residential have worked at different phases in our lives. There are pros and cons for both.

So after hearing FIFO likened to a "cancer" (especially when Mining Family Matters made a submission to the inquiry saying we hoped it would help to overcome negative stereotypes!) I thought it was timely to focus on the positives for families. Yes, we do find it tough sometimes, and there are hundreds of pages of content on this website outlining how to cope with any challenges. But here are just a few quick reasons why mining, oil and gas can ROCK on a lifestyle level:

  • Many mining couples say the lifestyle improves their communication skills and forces them to work together as a team. They make more effort with one another.
  • FIFO/DIDO has the potential to intensify feelings of excitement and anticipation that often fades in relationships.  It can help to keep that spark alive!
  • FIFO/DIDO lets the worker get ahead in his/her career without disrupting their partner's career.  You don't have to upheave the family with each new job or career move.
  • Mining and resources is a global industry – through work you can explore the world together.
  • When the FIFO/DIDO worker is at work, they're at work. When they're home, they're home. There is no stressing about whether Mum/Dad will be able to get away from the office in time for little Johnny’s soccer match: they are either home or at work. And they can't get called back into the mine after hours. It's simply too far away.
  • FIFO/DIDO parents get blocks of time with their children and can share in their everyday lives when other parents are generally at work in Mon-Fri jobs.
  • Rosters let you combine your normal extended blocks of time off with holiday leave, so you can maximise fun time away with the family. If you're single or child-free, think of the travel possibilities in your R&R. We know of one worker who has been to 90 countries.
  • And let’s not forget all those frequent flyer points you rack up flying to and from work!

For some other thoughts on the report: MiningFM response to federal FIFO inquiry report.