Media Release: New guide helps with the challenges of working away

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7 September 2011

Australia's growing army of workers on the move are being offered intimate relationship advice to ease the pressures of working away from their loved ones.

Working Away: A Survival Guide for Families is a 32-page, A5 booklet featuring professional advice from a registered psychologist, and practical tips for keeping relationships healthy and families happy.

The guide is an initiative of Mining Family Matters, Australia's first online community for families in mining and resources. Chapters include:

  • What to expect in the first few months
  • Helping kids to cope with fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) rosters
  • Sharing time and avoiding conflict
  • Are you making excuses about sex?
  • Identifying stress and depression

The booklet is the second in a series of survival guides published by Mining Family Matters, with more than 24,000 copies of the initial Survival Guide for Mining Families sold since its launch in March.

“With more Australians working away, we’ve been receiving an increasing number of requests from companies and individuals outside mining and resources,” says Mining Family Matters creator Alicia Ranford. “And so this guide was born, to help families handle the pressures of working away, regardless of the industry.”

The guide, launched today at AIMEX – Australia-Pacific’s International Mining Exhibition 2011 in Sydney, contains information most commonly requested on the Mining Family Matters website

Mining Family Matters creator Alicia Ranford is one of an increasing number of Australian parents raising young children while their dad flies interstate for work.

“Working away offers financial rewards and allows families to spend extended blocks of time together, but it can also cause challenges in terms of communication, intimacy and ensuring children cope with changing routines,” she says. “This guide offers professional, practical ideas to help relieve those pressures.”

The guide is targeted at companies for distribution to both new and existing employees who work away. Further information is available at

“Family feedback from our first survival guide has been overwhelmingly positive,” Ms Ranford says. “In Australia’s increasingly tight labour market, we believe this new guide will be a valuable tool for any company aiming to retain happy, productive employees.”


  1. “Don’t assume your life is tougher than the person who’s away/at home. It’s natural to feel this way … but getting into a competition about it all won’t help your relationship.”
  2. “Show a little enthusiasm when you’re reunited. Yes, this takes an effort sometimes, especially when you’ve had a bad day or been flying for hours to get back home – but the rewards can be big.”
  3. “To help your children cope, never talk about Mum/Dad ‘going away’ or ‘leaving’.  It should always be Mum/Dad is ‘going to work’. They’re just words, but children take things very literally.”
  4. “When you are home with the kids, work together to make a special bracelet, card, book or other object to act as a reminder of your bond. Something pocket-sized is great because it can be carried around and treasured every day.”
  5. “Start out with a team plan. What do want to achieve personally and professionally? If you’re part of a united team with very clear goals, this can be your focus when times get tough.”
  6. “Agree on a realistic list of jobs that need doing around the house on the days you’re together – and then write them down. Cuts out the need for nagging and arguments about being nagged.”
  7. “Don’t organise a massive amount of social activities for the time you’re together. Some couples have a rule of just one catch-up with friends or family over the break at home.”
  8. “Talk about any problems that arise as a symptom of the lifestyle, rather than as a relationship problem. This will help you tackle issues together as a team, rather than thinking there is ‘something wrong’ with your relationship or either one of you.”
  9. “Differing libidos challenge most long-term relationships. For couples who often live and work apart, there’s the added pressure of separation. It’s important to talk openly and honestly about your satisfaction with your sex life.”
  10. “If phone contact isn’t possible, get clever about staying connected: hide little love notes in the suitcase/around the house; read the same book or watch the same DVD as your partner; write a special note to each other for every day you’re apart – to be opened at the same time each day.”