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



How to survive a bushfire in your car

IT SOUNDS like a nightmare, but it can happen.

Eight reasons to join the RFS

SPREAD across 93% of Queensland, the Rural Fire Service has about 36,000 volunteers. And you could be one of them.

What if my insurer gives me grief?

CLAIMING your insurance cover after a natural disaster can go one of two ways. It can be a breeze, or like pulling teeth.

High chance of rain this weekend

Brothers Charity Cricket event. Photo Christopher Chan/The Observer

Rain could be good for fishing

BREAKING: Fire crews rush to Glen Eden fire

Fire crews are working to control a blaze at Glen Eden.

Fire crews work to control a grass fire at Glen Eden.

OPENING SOON: Burgers and beers at Gladstone's latest restaurant

GETTING THE URGE: Gladstone store and operational managers Chase Williams and Justin Charell gearing up ahead of opening.

Gourmet burger restaurant to open at Stocklands

Local Partners

Sia has split from her husband

Sia has split from her husband Erik Anders Lang.

Amy Schumer thanks Barbie trolls for hateful comments

Amy Schumer is in the lead role for the new Barbie movie

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing for destroyed sex life

Shannen Doherty's husband is suing her former manager

Azealia Banks' battery case against Russell Crowe dropped

Russell Crowe will not be charged with battery

Mel Gibson named Best Director at AACTA Awards

Mel Gibson poses in the media room after winning the AACTA Award for Best Direction for Hacksaw Ridge.

HIS wartime drama Hacksaw Ridge sweeps 6th annual awards in Sydney.

Mark Hamill unaware his co-stars were romantically involved

Hamill too "self-involved" at the time to notice, he said

Ipswich City Properties asset portfolio retains its value

Ipswich City Council Administration Building, South Street, Ipswich. Photo: Claudia Baxter / The Queensland Times

New website launched by Ipswich City Council

High profile premier invests in Gladstone industrial facility

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman heads a group that bought the UGL warehouses in Paget for $10 million.

FORMER PREMIER heads group that's backing Gladstone to bounce back.

INSIDE STORY: The highlights of your $150 million CBD

GRAND PLAN: The highlights of the Ipswich CBD redevelopment and where they will be located.

Work on city heart's radical transformation to begin next year

VOTE IN OUR POLL: Sand mine opponents face serious dilemma

Public meeting for the proposed sand mine at Maroochydore last week.

Coast MP calls on Minister to stop KRA proposal with stroke of a pen

Developer's grand new multi-million dollar estate

NEW ESTATE: This is the only plan revealed by the property developer's new Billabongs Estate in Agnes Water.

DEVELOPER given the go ahead for a massive estate with 149 homes.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!