When mining life got tough for young mum Kristiana Italiano, she didn't sit and mope. Instead, she reached out to support other families in southwest WA.
Q: Hi Kristiana, tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My hubby Jono and I have been doing the FIFO/DIDO thing for the past eight years on a 2&1 roster. I worked with him in Eneabba for two years, which was the best time of my life. We have a toddler called Jacob. We've had to sacrifice a lot of Jacob’s life with Jono working away, but if he did work locally he would probably rarely see him, because of the long hours he'd need to work. And we might not even have Jacob if it weren't for FIFO/DIDO, as he is an IVF baby.
Q: So why did you decide to start a support group?
A: I started the FIFO/DIDO South-West Support Group because I was feeling very lonely. My friends just didn’t understand our lifestyle.
The group covers some of Mandurah, Bunbury, Capel, Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River and Augusta. We now have 378 members, comprising FIFO/DIDO workers, families and their partners. We’ve helped South-West Coachlines with the FIFO Bus which runs from Dunsborough to Perth international and domestic airports. I’ve also created a social netball team in Busselton called "FIFO wives" and a FIFO Playgroup. I’m surprised by the amount of people attending our meetings and playgroup.
Q: What's your advice to families who are inexperienced at FIFO/DIDO?
A: Most importantly for stay-at-home partners, keep busy!
If you are thinking of starting a career in FIFO, the best advice is to sit down with the family (wife, husband and kids) and discuss how long everyone can handle mum or dad being away. There is no point doing a long roster if one or all of you is going to be miserable and depressed. From what I've seen in the support group, families doing 3&1 or 4&1 (or longer) really struggle.
Write out a plan for where you want to be in two or five years’ time and stick to it. Have solid goals. I’ve seen too many people living beyond their means.
Don’t forget to use EAPs (company employee assistance programs) which include free counselling services. All good mining and resources companies have these.
Q: How can people get more information?
If you've started a support group for mining and resources families in your area, tell us about it and we'll help you to spread the word.
In many areas of Australia, www.fifofamilies.com.au also runs support groups.