Children from FIFO families may get bullied more

WHILE families with a fly-in fly-out earner have adjusted to the unusual lifestyle, children in such families may suffer from higher levels of bullying, a study has found.

The analysis by the Australian Institute of Family Studies reviewed the problems faced by the mostly male FIFO workforce and their families across Queensland and Western Australia.

It found that despite the upheaval of such lengthy shift work, most families were likely to be as healthy as nine-to-five workers.

The findings of the research were particularly important for regional Queensland, where workers commonly FIFO or drive-in and out from remote mining sites or other remote jobs.

However, Institute research leader Elly Robinson said the ability of families to cope with the FIFO lifestyle depended on rosters, unique family circumstances as well as community support.

She said the lifestyle "does not suit everyone" and that children in FIFO families could experience negative emotions due to one parent's absence from the home.

"They may have increased behaviour problems - particularly boys, greater experiences of bullying at school, and increased pressure to succeed academically," she said.

"Parenting is a challenge for FIFO families, particularly for partners at home who have to manage the continual transitioning from solo parenting to co-parenting and back again, while providing for the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of children, without the support of a partner always at home."

The biggest challenge for FIFO families found the research was the continual changes from a single parent home to a dual parent.

Ms Robinson said the research showed the coming and going created confusion about who makes decisions in the home and what roles parents played, which could lead to conflict.

"One of the potential impacts on children is a lack of daily interaction with the FIFO parent," she said.

The research also found the essential parts of life for most families, such as family support, education opportunities and child care, were all the more important for FIFO families.

Mr Robinson said that "generally speaking, unmarried couples or families with teenage children fared best in a FIFO arrangement".


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