A state government-funded report has found fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers in Western Australia experience higher levels of psychological distress and workplace bullying than non-FIFO workers.

The research report, Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers, was funded by the McGowan Government and has been touted as one of the most comprehensive FIFO research studies undertaken in Australia.

Seeking to encourage employers to improve the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO workers, the report found one-third experience high levels of psychological distress compared to only 17 per cent of non-FIFO workers.

More than 3,000 FIFO workers and their families participated in the research which was also driven in partnership with industry, unions and researchers from Curtin University’s Centre of Transformative Work Design.

Along with higher levels of psychological distress, the research found FIFO workers also suffer more incidents of workplace bullying and higher levels of burnout than non-FIFO workers.

The report found many FIFO workers already use a wide range of positive strategies to manage their mental health including maintaining regular communication with family and friends while on-site, and seeking mental health support when needed.

There are 18 recommendations from the report, including rosters and shift patterns that provide better rest time, permanent rooms at accommodation sites and building local community connections.

The Western Australia Labor Government is urging the mining and construction industry, unions and individuals to implement the recommendations.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is also currently drafting a code of practice for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers in the resources and construction sectors in Western Australia. It is anticipated the code will reflect the outcomes of the research.

For a full copy of the report, visit http://www.mhc.wa.gov.au

AMMA is currently preparing a briefing document for the Western Australian Government collating our members’ views on the recommendations in this report. Examples of initiatives, actions and/or programs that have improved the mental health of FIFO workers will also be very useful. Please email any feedback and examples to [email protected].