There is a “toughen up princess” attitude on work sites that prevents some fly-in fly-out workers from seeking help for mental health problems, a union says.
The West Australian government’s education and health standing committee is conducting an inquiry into the mental health impacts of FIFO work and heard from several speakers on Wednesday.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Mick Buchan said in a statement there was a macho attitude on sites, so workers were often too scared to raise concerns for fear their employment would be threatened.
Mr Buchan said there needed to be independent support structures, shorter roster lengths, better communication services, more regulation and a pathway back to work for those who had experienced a mental health issue.
FIFO Families founder and director Nicole Ashby says people don’t realise the impact the lifestyle can have on workers’ mental health and the pressure on their families who live without them for extended periods.
“The first six months of FIFO work is make or break,” Ms Ashby said.
“Support for the worker’s partner at home and the family unit is so important.”
WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy deputy chief executive Nicole Roocke said despite reports of nine suicides among FIFO workers in the Pilbara in the past 12 months, that figure had not been substantiated, nor causal factors identified.
She said there was evidence to suggest suicides in FIFO workers were occurring at a similar rate to that of the state and well below those in the regions.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.