The FIFO effect: The impact of fly-in fly-out roles on family breakdown
Since the mining boom, the number of FIFO workers in large mining states has grown significantly. This method of employing people from another state and flying them into remote areas for temporary work is increasingly popular. But what effect is it having on Australian families?
Leaving your family for any extended period of time can be draining on both parties. Separation from a loved one is never a simple bridge to cross, and finding the right balance between work and home life is difficult for those who work ten minutes from home, let alone countless hours in a plane.
Although FIFO roles have the benefit of allowing families to stay in their home town instead of uprooting their lives to move to a mining town, the separation can quickly begin to have negative effects on their relationships.
Over a decade of research into the impact of FIFO on families has shown that isolation, loneliness, trust and resentment are the four main issues facing FIFO partners. These issues can be hard to combat on their own but, coupled with the strain on their children, they can become extremely difficult to defeat.
The absence of a FIFO parent from a child’s life is being likened to that of military families. Leaving their children for frequent and extended periods of time could affect the child’s schooling, increase any problems in behaviour and create separation anxiety.
Although there is not enough evidence to blame FIFO for family breakdowns, the potential impacts are enough to cause concern. If your family is suffering any FIFO effects, don’t worry. There are a range of different options for you to stay on top of this lifestyle.
Locating a FIFO support group
There are many local community groups in areas that are home to a high number of FIFO partners and families. These groups help people connect with others who are experiencing similar struggles. This united front has become invaluable to the FIFO community, but might not be enough.
Although the call for a higher level of connection for families who are not located in these communities is slowly being answered, the need continues to grow.
Putting the kids first
When a FIFO family breaks down it is important for each parent to take into account the best interest of their children. After working through the anxiety of have a FIFO parent, the thought of losing a parent full time can become too much. Taking the extra time and care is essential to making sure your child can work through this process and understand it to their fullest.
Resolving FIFO family breakdowns without going to court
If your family is going through a breakdown that has been brought forward because of the increased stress of a FIFO lifestyle, there are ways to resolve this without ending up in court. Mediation and family dispute resolution can help FIFO partners escape the stress of court while working through their disputes. FIFO families that are looking for support and guidance through a family breakdown should seek the help of a professional family lawyer.
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