FIFO network launch

THE FIFO Australian Community of Excellence (FACE) network was launched in Perth last night to promote and advance globally sustainable FIFO work practices.
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Marion Lopez

The FACE network is a non-profit association of researchers, workers, policymakers, service providers and community members interested in understanding and bettering all elements of the FIFO lifestyle.

These include work practices, emotional wellbeing, health and safety, social and physical impact and policy.

“Our organisation facilitates on-going dialogue nationally and internationally to advance knowledge through mutually beneficial relationships,” the FACE network said.

“[Yesterday] marks an important milestone as FACE prepares to launch officially, after some months of collaboration and hard work from a number of stakeholders with a keen interest in everything FIFO.”

FACE hopes its multidisciplinary and collaborative approach will support innovative strategy-based and community driven research to benefit FIFO workers, their employers, families and communities.

As discussions unfold and findings are revealed, it will aim to make this data available to all to improve worker attraction and retention, support services, aid management strategies and inform policy towards better health, well-being and profitability throughout the resources sector.

FACE has already hosted an inaugural forum at Perth’s Curtin University and presented a submission to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly Health and Education Standing Committee’s “Inquiry into Mental Illness and Suicide in Fly-in, Fly-out Workers”

The submission outlined a comprehensive case for the protection of FIFO workers mental health and suicide prevention strategies and spelled out nine factors believed to influence FIFO mental health and suicide, including employment, living and working conditions, sexual health and work-life balance.

Yet, and while another 69 written submissions were received, the inquiry did not find evidence that the FIFO workforce had a higher prevalence of mental health issues – despite three FIFO workers taking their own lives in three months during the inquiry.

This sparked industry calls for more evidence, as most agree the issue of FIFO mental health and suicide is real.

“This (the lack of evidence) should not diminish the tragic impact suicides have in the community,”

Chamber for Minerals and Energy CEO Reg Howard-Smith said at the time.

“Every suicide is a tragic loss and with 366 suicides in WA in 2012, no one disagrees we have a problem in the community.”

Another parliamentary inquiry into FIFO work practices is underway in Queensland.

FACE made a submission this week and a report is due on September 30.

FACE will also hold a free seminar into the “Mental Health and Community Impacts of FIFO” on June 5.

The event was a joint initiative with the University of Western Australia as part of its Centre for Social Impact festival.

Speakers from government, industry and academia discussed issues and evidence relates to the FIFO work within the resources sector.

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Registration to the FACE network is free.