Inquiry looks at FIFO impact

THE impact fly-in, fly-out workers are having on hinterland communities will be put under the microscope next week.

The Regional Australia Committee is holding hearings throughout Australia and has scheduled meetings in Moranbah and Mackay on February 22 and 23.

Moranbah Traders Association liaison officer Lyn Busk said the association, which represents 65 businesses in the region, entered a submission last year to the inquiry.

The submission included results collated by the association about social strain on the town and infrastructure problems arising from fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workplace practices.

A statement lodged by Moranbah Medical pointed to a lack of relationship between doctors and non-resident worker patients, which was resulting in lower levels of compliance and co-operation from some patients.

The submission also noted a tendency for some unattached men to engage in reckless behaviours such as drinking and drug taking, which resulted in more emergency presentations.

Meanwhile, Griffith University professor Paula Brough has found most workers can only endure the FIFO lifestyle for two years.

"The financial rewards of working in these environments are a strong draw for many but we have heard of many cases of people who, after a period of time, have found that the disadvantages can outweigh the benefits," she said.

But as mining companies struggle with the skills shortage and with about $20 billion of new mining projects set to commence in the Bowen Basin alone the FIFO trend is sure to continue.

Isaac Region mayoral candidate Ann Crawford said FIFO was not necessary when mines were within two hours driving time of communities.

"We have people who have invested heavily into small business in these communities... these businesses will go down the gurgler," she said.


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