The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) supports the Parliamentary Education and Health Standing Committee call for more evidence on Fly-in, Fly-Fly-out (FIFO) and mental health.
“To date, the Parliamentary Inquiry has yet to find evidence or substantiate claims that the FIFO workforce had a higher prevalence of mental health issues,” said Mr Howard-Smith.
“This should not diminish the tragic impact suicides have in the community. Every suicide is a tragic loss and with 366 suicides in WA in 2012, no one disagrees we have a problem in the community,” said Mr Howard-Smith.
Today’s discussion paper follows the extensive Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into FIFO practices released in 2013, which received no evidence that supported a claim that mental health issues were any higher in the FIFO worker population than in the wider workforce. The Inquiry ran for 18 months, received hundreds of submissions, visited numerous sites and held dozens of public hearings.
The Parliamentary Inquiry has the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the complex issue of mental health and suicide prevention. Mental health and wellbeing is far broader than the number of suicides; it varies over time and will be impacted by a range of factors, including quality of family and social supports, financial status, work and external environments and other individual factors.
“This makes responsibility for mental health issues a shared one – for individuals, government, community and industry,” said Mr Howard-Smith.
In recent years, we’ve seen a greater variety in FIFO rosters available, dramatic improvements in accommodation quality and facilities available. Additionally companies recognise employee wellbeing is important, with most companies providing support groups and employee assistance programs to help employees adjust to FIFO lifestyle. These can include family visits to site, buddy systems, free counselling, group activities and in-room internet to communicate with partners and family.
“The majority of resources companies also provide counselling services and promote awareness of wellbeing issues via their fit for work and health promotion programmes,” said Mr Howard-Smith.
“While regional WA is a great place to live and work, the vibrancy and amenities available in Perth make living near the city an attractive choice for many in the resources sector,” said Mr Howard-Smith.
“Put simply, it’s a matter of choice for employees – a choice about where they live and where they choose to work” said Mr Howard-Smith.