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Is this picture an accurate image of what might be happening in the offices of those government officials who should be looking into the 21 Recommendations handed down by the Standing committee on the impact of FIFO on Regional Australia?
The very unhappy national member for Riverina, NSW, Michael Mc Cormack might suggest so. In an article in the Whitsunday Times this week he is so disillusioned with the response to the recommendations that he is reported as saying “we compiled a great report, with really serious problems addressed, and it’s probably sitting on a shelf in some government office gathering dust.” Mr Mc Cormack is clearly frustrated and annoyed at the lack of action that the report’s recommendations have received. As I read this quote I hear some sadness in his words too.
In preparation for this week’s post I re-read the 21 recommendations and in truth felt a wave of sadness as I realized that there are only 3 of 21 recommendations that focus on the impact of FIFO on the family. Given that FIFO workers all have families and therefore the impact on the FIFO worker and the FIFO family is significant to not only them but the industry as a whole – it saddens me to know that the first and only government report on FIFO has spent so much time and attention on fringe benefit tax issues, zoning issues and data numbers NOT the people who make FIFO happen.
Why is the focus of this report so lightly touching on the essential issue of the humans who work the whole industry? What does this lack of human interest say about our government and our culture? How can the people who make this workplace practice a reality day to day be so sidelined and invisible in the whole discussion? I don’t have any answers but the good news part of this post is that a lot is happening in response to the 3 recommendations that focus on FIFO workers and their families.
I’m happy to report that although no public data has been released about government commissioned research on the effects of FIFO on children and families the university sector has taken up the call. Recommendation 8 & 10 appear to be the focus of a growing number of research projects being conducted across the University sector; they are listed here in no particular order and I’m sure I’ve missed a few but here’s a start;
Dr Cassandra Dittman at University of Queensland, The Working Parents Research Project;
Natalia Brunetti at Australian Catholic University;
This study seeks to examine the impact of work-related absence (FIFO) on mental health outcomes of homebound partners, and the individual factors that contribute or hinder adaption into a FIFO lifestyle. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/56GQ7PT
3 Current surveys being conducted by Murdoch University;
Dr Greg Willson at Edith Cowan University is investigating the holiday/leisure behaviour of FIFO workers and their families;
Do you know of any other surveys, research or work that is being done in this space? Have you participated in any of the research and if so what has been your experience? Please let me know by commenting today.