MP raises FIFO men­tal health fears

Pilbara News - - News - Sophia Con­stan­tine

Mem­ber for the Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion Stephen Daw­son says the min­ing in­dus­try has been “slow to ad­mit” to alarm­ing lev­els of sui­cide and men­tal health among fly-in, fly-out work­ers.

He said work­ers re­mained fear­ful that as soon they ad­mit­ted to feel­ing de­pressed, they would be putting their job at risk.

“Sadly, the risk of de­pres­sion still re­mains high for fly-in, fly-out work­ers,” he said.

“While many com­pa­nies re­sponded well to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the re­cent par­lia­men­tary in­quiry, some are yet to take ac­tion.

“For many work­ers the fear of los­ing their job only adds to their stress.”

His com­ments come af­ter a Perth psy­chol­o­gist re­ported that fly-in, fly-out-re­lated pre­sen­ta­tions to his Bal­divis clinic con­tin­ued to grow with the min­ing boom down­turn, driv­ing peo­ple to seek help in record numbers.

He said the nearly half of the peo­ple coming in were FIFO work­ers or fam­i­lies, with about three to five men a week con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide. “The cul­ture of the min­ing and re­sources in­dus­try means that if you say you’re men­tally strug­gling, not only are you looked down on by your col­leagues but there’s po­ten­tially a red flag to se­nior man­agers,” he said.

“That means a lot of peo­ple suf­fer in si­lence.”

A Rio Tinto spokesman said the com­pany had pro­grams to pro­mote pos­i­tive men­tal health, along with a 24/7 coun­selling ser­vice avail­able to em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies.

Fortes­cue Met­als Group chief ex­ec­u­tive Nev Power said FMG recog­nised the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing a pos­i­tive fo­cus on health and well­be­ing in the workforce.

A BHP Bil­li­ton spokes­woman said the com­pany con­tin­ued to work to im­prove their ex­ist­ing pro­grams and look to what other men­tal well­ness mea­sures could be in­tro­duced.

A Roy Hill spokes­woman said the com­pany had a pro­gram which has been au­dited against the WA Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion’s yet-to-be-re­leased WA Work­place Men­tal Health Stan­dards: Pre­vent­ing Sui­cide.

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