Relationship struggles of a single FIFO miner

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Cameron is a single Aussie bloke in his late 20s. He's been doing FIFO out of NSW and WA for more than five years, working for mining companies in Australia and overseas. He volunteered to share his story about life as a single FIFO miner, and the issues that presents.

Q: What do you find difficult about FIFO?

Cameron: Maintaining friendships from different states is tough – you never get to see your mates in 'real' time off. Meeting women and maintaining new relationships is almost impossible. It's hard to find girls who understand and can adapt to the randomness of FIFO. People who aren't in the industry just can't comprehend your rosters and lifestyle. Most camps have poor internet systems so it's hard to stay in touch – even with immediate family members.

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Q: You recently went through a difficult time personally.  How did your work life impact on this?

Cameron: The lack of continuity and a regular support network, because of working FIFO, made it tough. Onsite I find it hard to confide in the people I have a working relationship with. There's not much chance to escape at work, as there are limited places to be by yourself.  There's really only your donga and this can be a bit depressing, as they're quite impersonal and feel a bit like solitary confinement.

Q: What did you do to help get through this time?

Cameron: I used the resources of our company's EAP [employee assistance program].  I received six counselling sessions for free and I found this really helped.

Q: Have you tried any different tactics to make a relationship and FIFO work?

Cameron: I tried dating a FIFO work colleague, but this was really difficult and I wouldn’t do it again.  Perhaps if we worked at different sites, but on the same roster, it could work as we would have R&R together but not work together. It was just too intense – working, eating and having R&R together was too much. Then, when things went pear-shaped, we still had to work together and live in close proximity on site.

If you're a single miner (or you know one doing it tough) and you've got a question for our resident psychologist Angie, please click here.

To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.