News

Workers reveal hidden pain of FIFO life

Luka Kauzlaric

A HIDDEN world of broken families, lost relationships and abandoned children is coming to the surface in the mining and construction industry as young workers take their own lives.

"You can't put a price on family," said father-of-three Jason*, whose life has been torn apart due to intense working conditions.

"But the look on my son's face when I can pick him up from school is priceless."

Gladstone workers say with long rosters requiring physical, high-risk work, which is the basis for the CFMEU members' protected industrial action, it won't be long before a local life is lost.

The concern comes on the back of a suicide this week of a fly-in, fly-out worker on WA's Barrow Island - the fourth death Australia-wide in the past 12 months.

The suicide rate of FIFO workers is 70% higher than the national average.

Gladstone locals are becoming FIFOs elsewhere as the work dries up on Curtis Island, while the other half of the island's workers are FIFOs from elsewhere.

The Observer sat down with Jason, who's been separated from his two sons and daughter due to a relationship breakdown and work, to listen to some of the problems faced on the job.

The 39-year-old Gladstone man worked on the island and has gone on to FIFO across Australia.

Like most of the workers, he won't reveal his identity for fear of job retribution, but he's also worried about his own mental health as well as those around him.

"A lot of young guys haven't done FIFO before," Jason said.

"Relationships are strained ... on these rosters you're not going to be there for every birthday, carnival and footy game with the kids."

He said at least a dozen Gladstone workers were on FIFO where he works, but his three-weeks on/one-week off roster meant a week of quality time with his kids.

"If I got told to go back on a four/one (week) roster again I couldn't do it again, I'd resign," he said.

He said workers on the bigger mining and construction sites spent most of their time travelling.

"Guys put in for leave for the Christmas holidays and are getting knocked back," he said.

"You're entitled to an RDO once a month but they look down at you and want an explanation - watching your kid run the 100m for school is not good enough for them."

He said the one week off was often reduced to five days with the family, and after two days of travel it didn't leave much time for relaxing before returning to work.

"You come home cranky and tired and find yourself snapping at the kids."

He said workers tried to drown their problems in the gym or in the drink.

"You can have a few drinks and talk to your mates and it's all good, but you get back to your donga (room) and at 2am when you can't sleep it's very lonely," he said.

"I'm worried about these young fellas - a 22-year-old is not going to call a counsellor, not one of them will ask for help. Their way out is suicide."

Topics:  curtis island editors picks employment fifo health industry mining



McDonald's shooting: Police actions deemed 'lawful'

CLEARED: Cops who fired shots at a former Gladstone man Zachariah Hewitt deemed lawful.

Police cleared after firing shots at former Gladstone man

UPDATE: Contractor taken to hospital after falling at QAL

Paramedics respond to reports of a man falling 10m at QAL

Man possibly injured after falling 10m

Council's choice in revealing reason behind shock departure of CEO

Gladstone council meeting January 17, 2017.

THE COMMUNITY "doesn't really have a say” in who the council CEO is

Local Partners

The best of SUNfest on show

SUNfest 2017 wraps up on Friday night with showcase event.


New Year New Yard

Win $1000 Bunnings Voucher
Learn More

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Noll meltdown won't affect Gympie Oz Day concert

Shannon Noll

Photo Contributed

Shannon Noll is still expected to perform in Gympie next Thursday

11 huge events coming to Gladstone in the next 6 months

Events coming up in Gladstone in 2017.

Your guide to exciting events coming to the Gladstone region

Jimmy Barnes Gladstone show not a sell out

Jimmy Barnes will be performing in Gladstone on Saturday at the Harvey Road Tavern.

PLENTY of tickets still available

Your chance to drive like Magnum P.I.

Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. with his trusty 'side-kick' Ferrari.

FERRARI that appeared on classic detective show goes to auction.

Ocean Sleeper discuss being 'Six Feet Down'.

Ocean Sleeper make waves with their new EP. Photo Contributed

Gippsland band shines at Unify

Bowie's final music EP No Plan released

NEW: Artwork for David Bowie's posthumous 2016 EP, No Plan.

David Bowie's 28th and final album

Crow Street Creative on right track

Crow St Creative host barbecue and bands.

"Blank canvas”: industrial Crow Street developments

Married At First Sight: Ipswich bachelor seeks love

READY FOR IT: Ipswich man Simon McQuillan will appear on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.

Romance would top off recovery for Booval man

Collapsed Coast company could owe up to $5 million

Staff, ATO, landlords among those out of pocket.

Ipswich block of dirt sells for $582 a square metre

JUST SOLD: A property on the Brookwater golf course sold for a record-breaking $612,000.

Property smashed 2007 record by close to $100,000

Sunday auction for historical home

Former Catholic school sure to attract spirited bidding

Looking back, looking ahead in Noosa

NEVER-ENDING GLORY: Looking towards Laguna Bay and Hastings St from Noosa National Park.

Natural appeal of Noosa continues to attract buyers

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!