Media Release: World's first self-help book for mining families

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3 July 2012 

Mining Families Rock, the world's first self-help book for mining families, is being launched Australia-wide today.

The 176-page book offers professional advice and practical strategies for the growing number of mining workers coping with fly-in/fly-out, drive-in/drive-out or life in isolated mining communities.

Mining Families Rock features professional advice by a psychologist, personal anecdotes from mining family members, and a raft of simple tips for keeping relationships healthy and kids happy.

The book is also aimed at Australians hoping to tap into the mining boom, with timely advice on where to start when you want a job in mining and what to expect from life on a mine site.

It’s published by the award-winning online support network Mining Family Matters, with 70 chapters including:

  • Staying connected when you work away
  • Helping children (from toddlers to teens) cope
  • Using time wisely on precious days together
  • Rebooting your sex life in a mining marriage
  • Beating the 'black day' blues
  • Building a new life in a mining town
  • Mine site etiquette and what to pack for your first shift

Mining Family Matters co-founder Alicia Ranford says Mining Families Rock has been carefully compiled, not only to help people through any challenges they face as a result of their work choices, but also to help people feel good about those choices.

"The mining boom offers great opportunities for families, but after six moves in a decade and eight years of fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) I know it can also put intense pressure on couples trying to maintain a strong relationship and raise happy, healthy kids," Alicia says.

"Great communication is the absolute key, and hopefully this book will start a lot of conversations on many personal levels."

Mining Family Matters psychologist Angie Willcocks says there is a lot of attention in Australia on the negative impacts of FIFO rosters on families, and it’s time to turn the focus onto how to make these couples more resilient.

"Working away from home is a fact of life for a growing number of Australian families and it can be a positive experience so long as couples are very clear about goals and potential problems up front. They need to tackle any issues as a united team and regularly reassess how the whole family is coping."

Mining Families Rock is written by mining mum Alicia Ranford, psychologist Angie Willcocks and journalist Lainie Anderson. It’s priced at $24.95 and is available from the Mining Family Matters website www.miningfm.com.au.

The creation of a comprehensive self-help book follows the success of MiningFM’s 32-page Survival Guide for Mining Families. More than 50,000 copies have been sold to mining companies Australia-wide since March 2011.

Sample tips from Mining Families Rock

  • Coping in the early days of FIFO/DIDO: We all cope differently when things get tough. Some need more contact; others prefer to withdraw. If your partner seems distant and keen to get off the phone in the early days, try not to take it personally.
  • How to cope when you’re missing your kids: Remember that your children will only worry and panic about dad being away for Christmas or a big birthday if the adults seem to be worried or panicky. Look at this as a great opportunity to model resilience and problem-solving skills.
  • Beating the black day blues: Black days are a bit like Mondayitis, only on a bigger scale. For some miners, it’s the final day of their time off. For others it’s the actual day of travel back to the mine site. Next time you are having a black day, take the time to think about how you feel (sad, anxious or stressed) and how you are acting. Sometimes, even just noticing your black day thoughts can help.
  • Mining mums who work away: Make sure guilt doesn’t affect your parenting style. If you do feel guilty about working away or long hours on the job, offload to supportive friends and/or family to get it off your chest, rather than changing how you interact with your kids.
  • Don’t let money make you miserable: Don’t alter your commitments (i.e. new house or bigger loan repayments) until you are sure that mining works for you. FIFO/DIDO families don’t do too well when they feel stuck with the lifestyle.
  • Working away – helping children to cope: Allow your children to talk about how they feel, and offer an extra cuddle when they’re sad. Avoid saying things like “be brave” or “don’t be silly” because they might start hiding feelings from you, thinking they are unacceptable feelings to talk about.
  • Helping teenagers to cope: some FIFO/DIDO parents feel a little guilty or sorry for their kids, and so expect less of them. Strangely enough, this can be bad for their self esteem. Encouraging and even expecting your teenager to take part in family activities and help around the house is not only good for their confidence; it’s great for setting up opportunities for communication.
  • Sex and the mining couple: Ifyou have differing libidos, don’t fall into the trap of thinking the ‘problem’ rests with the person who wants less or more sex. Setting the issue up as one person’s problem just makes it harder to tackle and increases the tension, frustration, guilt and blame. Try approaching your differing sex drives as a team, working together to break your ‘sex cycles’.
  • Marriage breakdowns and infidelity: If you have a strong relationship based on mutual respect, interests and love for each other (and you can openly discuss any worries or issues as they arise) there is no reason the FIFO/DIDO lifestyle should negatively impact your marriage or partnership.
  • Mine camp etiquette: Get yourself clean and tidy before breakfast and dinner in the mess hall.No-one wants to sit beside someone with half the day’s work still on their overalls.