Mum fights for FIFO changes
■ A WA mother who lost her son to suicide said the fight would go on in the wake of the State Government’s response to the mental health inquiry of fly-in, fly-out workers.
Last week the State Government said it supported 14 of the 30 recommendations made by the Education and Health Standing Committee, noted 15 and partially supported one.
Anita Miller, mother of FIFO worker Rhys Connor who killed himself on a mine site outside Newman in 2013, questioned why there was only one person on the committee from the Mental Health Commission.
“I’ll follow (the recommendations) through, that’s my mission as a mother of a child who was lost to suicide,” she said.
The State’s workers’ unions have levelled criticism at the Government for not bringing in a formal code for FIFO or restricting nonfamily friendly rosters.
CFMEU State secretary Mick Buchan said the code of practice was the minimum needed to ensure a healthy existence for FIFO workers.
“It underpins the integrity of all other recommendations, and without it, weakens the 14 recommendations that the Government has agreed to,” he said.
The report recommended that the Department of Mines and Petroleum and Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion’s office work with the Mental Health Commission to develop a code.
Instead, Mr Marmion said many of the objectives of the recommendations could be achieved by reviewing and strengthening existing codes of practice which would be done alongside the Commission.
“Planning is under way on a Work Health and Safety (Resources) Bill which will provide an opportunity to address other recommendations in the report,” he said.
Member for the Pilbara Brendon Grylls said it would have been good to see the recommendations fully endorsed but there might not even be as much of a need for FIFO in the future.
He said a shortage of accommodation and large construction forces had made the practice of FIFO a big saving for companies in the past, but a faltering housing market could see things go the other way, with more workers employed locally. Of the 15 recommendations noted, the DMP and Mental Health Commission will work with the advisory committee to progress at least 11, including the need for mental health training at mine sites and the introduction of onsite peer support programs.
The number of FIFO workers will be counted annually, while funds will be committed to developing a database of reportable deaths and, on the Government’s behalf, the MHC will commission independent research into the mental impacts of FIFO work.
Mine workers at Perth airport ready to fly to site.