News

FIFO guide to survival

“YOU feel like an intruder in your own home. It’s horrible.”

That’s how Jason Sammon feels when he returns home after his four-day stint at a Blackwater mine site.

“I’m a visitor in my own home. She’s raising the kids by herself, and you intrude on their life,” he said, referring to his wife of almost 14 years raising their four children aged between 18 months and 16 years.

Jason’s story tells an all-too-familiar tale of mining families feeling the constant pressure of distance and absence while working away.

It is a reality that Mining Family Matters co-founder Alicia Ranford also faced when rearing her two children virtually alone while her husband joined the growing FIFO workforce in mines around the nation.

Her plight is the inspiration behind the launch of a new booklet, The Survival Guide for Mining Families, which offers intimate relationship advice and parenting tips, among other common information, for households who frequently deal with FIFO workers.

“I’ve moved six times in the past 12 years, raised two young children while their dad has worked a FIFO roster and seen many marriages crumble under the strain of living apart,” Ms Ranford said.

“Our daughter was struggling to cope with Dad being away and when I went looking for information about how to cope with it, I realised there wasn’t much.

“There was no support networks for those families, and that’s the platform from which Mining Family Matters was launched.”

With more than 32,000 website hits and countless forum submissions, the site has been a resounding success and proved that Ms Ranford’s situation was not unique.

“The response has been overwhelming, and I knew that if I had problems, I wasn’t the only one,” she said.

The book offers an alternative to massive life changes, such as uprooting the family unit from an established community and “starting over” in another town.

“Mining communities are great, and it is great to be a part of the community,” Ms Ranford said.

“But I think there are pros and cons of both being a FIFO family and living in the town.

“My husband has worked in remote communities and I’ve lived there, and loved it, but equally, I had no family support unit and I found it hard to build up that network.

“In the end, we chose to do a FIFO so I and the kids could be near my family and he could still work in his job.”

A pertinent tip for partners remaining at home, Ms Ranford said, was taking the plunge and joining social groups you normally wouldn’t give a second thought to.

She recalled joining a sewing and quilting club to meet people while living in Charters Towers some years ago, and although she remains a terrible quilter, Ms Ranford became confident that mining communities weren’t isolation chambers for mine worker wives and partners.

Getting out there and becoming involved helped, but nothing could replace close-knit family support.

“I totally appreciate small towns wanting the community resources to come with the workers, and there are the positives of that, but the reality is that FIFO workers are a way forward for mine employment,” she said.

“All relationships have their ups and downs, but the stresses are heightened when one partner works away or you’re a long distance from your closest family and friends – this guide offers really practical ideas for relieving those pressures.”

TIPS FOR SURVING FIFO

House rules for a happy home: Write down a realistic list of jobs that need doing that you agree on – this will reduce arguments and nagging.

Sharing time and avoiding conflict: Talk about The Problem as a symptom of the lifestyle, rather than the relationship.

Are you making excuses about sex?: ‘I’m too tired’ can be code for ‘I don’t want to be close to you, only to lose that feeling again’ – find ways to feel connected when apart.

Does mum always know best?: Talk about parenting styles and agree on basic issues such as expectations and discipline.

FIFO dads and discipline: Create a list of family rules and involve the kids, write them up and pin them on the fridge. Remember the golden rule – they apply all the time, whether home or not.

Mining mums working away: FIFO mothers also face the judgments of other people so remain clear about why you chose mining as a career and a FIFO/DIDO as a lifestyle – choose to see the positives.

Relocating tips for happy travels: Have family discussions, explain where and why you are moving, and show them pictures and maps of your new town – give them as much information about the new area as possible.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Swooping season has begun

A magpie on the touch field at Kearneys Spring Sporting Complex, Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Spring is here and the magpie swooping season has begun.

Construction starts on Hoods Lagoon boardwalk

BOARDWALK WORKS: Cameron, Ashlynn and Sandy Frost walk along Hoods Lagoon, Clermont.

Hoods Lagoon boardwalk rejuvination begins.

From Casino to CQ: Emerald bull sales

SENEPOL BULL SALE: Vendor Colin Godfrey with son Blair.

The Godfrey family travel a long way to sell bulls at Emerald.

Local Partners

CH Regional Council heads to Blackwater

Central Highlands Regional Council recently visited Blacktown to give locals the opportunity to discuss local issues with councillors.

Unveiling ceremony to honour victims of flood

AFLOAT: Floating Lantern Ceremony at the Clermont Gold and Coal Festival paid tribute to the great flood in Clermont in 1916.

VICTIMS of Clermont's 1916 flood will be honoured in ceremony.

Swooping season has begun

A magpie on the touch field at Kearneys Spring Sporting Complex, Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Spring is here and the magpie swooping season has begun.

Construction starts on Hoods Lagoon boardwalk

BOARDWALK WORKS: Cameron, Ashlynn and Sandy Frost walk along Hoods Lagoon, Clermont.

Hoods Lagoon boardwalk rejuvination begins.

From Casino to CQ: Emerald bull sales

SENEPOL BULL SALE: Vendor Colin Godfrey with son Blair.

The Godfrey family travel a long way to sell bulls at Emerald.

Coal truck driver suing mine he crashed at

Former mine truck driver who crashed 280-tonn truck suing Anglo Coal

Black lung must be investigated, and fast says victim

Percy Verrall suffers from 'black lung' disease caused by his time spent coal mining.

'I don't want young people working in the mines to go through this'

Rural property: hot to trot

RURAL PROPERTY BOOM: Maguires Real Estate and Livestock owner, Tim Maguire at the saleyards where the price of cattle is influencing the rural property market.

Rural properties in high demand.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Rebecca Hall doesn't own a TV

Newspapers, yes. Television, not so much

Jaime King 'terrified' by son's heart surgery

Jamie King was "terrified" when her son went in for heart surgery.

John Mayer's advice for Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes has revealed John Mayer gave him advice

Josh Brolin and Kathryn Boyd tie the knot

Josh Bolin marries in front of close friends and family

Marilyn Manson wants a 'nice' girl

Marilyn Manson wants a girl who understands both of his identities

Angelina turns to Depp for consolation after divorce

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their six children

Angelina Jolie is reportedly being consoled by Johnny Depp

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record