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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Groote Eylandt; Groote Eylandt (N.T.) -- Newspapers
Groote Eylandt Mining Co.
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Groote Eylandt Mining Co
October 10th 2012 Page 3 FIFO was an acronym that until 5 years ago, was relatively unknown outside of the regional workforce. These days it has become a well-known catch phrase to label the growing number of mining indus try workers choosing the option to Fly In and Fly Out of regional and remote locations. With this trend has come an increased interest by various organizations concerning the impact that a FIFO workforce could have on social, health and family life as well as accompanying infrastructure development and social impacts in remote communities. A Federal Government inquiry was called in August of last year to investigate impacts of FIFO style work and is expected to be released next year. However despite the recent focus on it, FIFO is far from a new phenomenon in the Australian workplace. The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy dates the use of a FIFO workforce in the minerals sector, to the late 1970s. According to the Institute, it is the increase in the reported use of these (FIFO) practices coupled with focused media attention of the negative social impacts and the reduced viability of many regional and remote town centers that has ultimately led to the inquiry. According to research by the Reserve Bank of Australia, the use of a temporary FIFO workforce is helping prevent unsustainable growth in mining communities. Reported in The Property Observer the research suggests that once the mining investment phase comes to an end, the utilization of FIFO labor is likely to fall as labor demand in these areas declines. To the extent that much of the extra demand for labor in remote locations is temporary, an advantage of FIFO arrangements is that they can help limit the extent of housing and infrastructure required to service the workforce, and therefore reduce the extent of unused capacity when the boom ultimately passes," says the report. In a country where eight in 10 inhabitants live within 50kms of the coast, Australia has vast amounts of sparsely inhabited land, dotted with remote communities, all requiring access to medical and other gov ernment services. In an interview on ABC Radio, Dean Carson, Professor of Rural and Remote Research from Flinders University Rural Clinical School commented that a far greater number of FIFO workers are employed outside of the mining sector and have been for many years. According to Professor Carson, positions such as locum doctors, nurses and seasonal workers in accommodation and agricul tural sectors take up a far greater percentage of FIFO workers than the mining industry. Professor Carson believes the concern then becomes the quality of consistent Government service provision. While some may struggle finding the work/life balance, many find FIFO a great way to save for the future. Andrew Gilligan, a laborer/operator, has been work ing FIFO from the NT community of Groote Eylandt for over six months and credits the remote location to helping him learn to manage his finances. FIFO hasn't really changed my spending habits at all, if anything it has helped my saving habits as I have nothing to spend money on and do long swings. FIFO work is always an attractive way to make money for myself as I only work four to six months a year in Australia and spend the rest diving and working around Asia. Its great and I would definitely recommend FIFO for friends and family. In fact, Support services for GEMCO FIFO employees Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service fortnightly visits to Eylandt and a 24 hour freephone number for any employees/contractors to use Fatigue management system including commute plans for those who live more than one hours drive from Darwin or Cairns airports, and fatigue calculators to assess likely fatigue Education regarding healthy lifestyle nutrition, exercise, sleep, managing shift work etc Camp life curfews to allow best sleeping environment; healthy lifestyle tips in the Mess; workers in camp only have responsibility for their personal hygiene, all other living chores are provided for them. Gym and other GEMCO run recreational facilities such as the swimming pool, squash courts, town walking tracks, golf course etc Chez: The best thing about FIFO is having a full week off and the only negative thing I can think of is the early morning start when we change over and the flights. My spending hasn't changed that much, I save while away and probably spend a little more when Im back on mainland. I work 7/7 and I love my roster. Alan: The best thing about FIFO is the lifestyle, I love it. The worst part is the temporary accommodation and having to change rooms every swing. FIFO has made me more conscious of budgeting and aware of managing my money. Im very satisfied with my 7/7 roster and feel its healthy for my rela tionship. Belinda: The best thing about FIFO is having a weeks holiday! The worst thing is the early mornings. It hasn't really changed my spend ing habits much, if anything I save more than I used to. Im on a 7/7 roster and I love it. more and more of my friends are also moving into mining for half a year or so before taking off again to work out in Asia somewhere. The money we can save makes for an easier working holiday and a gen erally better overseas experience. Director of the on-line support website, FIFO Families, Nicole Ashby says the FIFO lifestyle works for her family, but it hasn't always been easy. She suggests trying to educate yourself to the realities of FIFO and how you will be affected by being away from home and loved ones. According to Nicole, the roster pattern can be crucial to how fami lies cope. Shorter 7/7, 2wk/2wk rosters are effective because youre not working for too long so its not only achievable physically but the equal time off makes is a great work-life balance. Anything more than around three weeks can cause extra strain on the family unit and also makes for a greater chance at miss ing important family events. Nicole also believes the young, cashed-up, boozing, bogan image of a FIFO worker, presented in the media is a myth. Recent research suggests that the average age of FIFO workers in Australia is 45, she says. FIFO resource industry workers do engage in more drinking than the general population, but at sites with a wet mess, its often the central place to socialize, so it becomes part of the culture and the lifestyle. Here on Groote Eylandt where there is a waitlist for residential housing which is currently all full, a large percentage of the workforce is FIFO. GEMCO Health and Hygiene Specialist, Sue Stephenson said the trick to FIFO work was to get a lifestyle friendly roster. The majority of GEMCO FIFO rosters are 7/7, allowing workers to spend large amounts of time with family and avoid burn-out by working too much, Sue said. We also have measures in place to ensure that FIFO workers are well supported. Having their say: The faces of FIFO on Groote Eylandt Choosing the right roster pattern can be crucial to how families cope. a look into Australias Fly-in, Fly-out workforce Many residents of Zimbabwes Bulawayo city have simultaneously flushed their toilets as part of an official attempt to prevent blocked sewage pipes. Mayor, Thaba Moyo told the BBC that the big flush would keep pipes wet and prevent them getting clogged. Council workers had visited townships warning people that they risked fines if they failed to take part and the synchronised flush will now take place at the same time twice a week. A major reassessment of 18yeras worth of satellite observations has provided a new detailed view of sea-level change around the world. Globally, sea levels are rising by 3mm/yr, however the effect of the El Nino/La Nina-Southern Oscillation has caused increases in excess of 10mm/yr in the Philippine Sea and the data indicates that South East Asian waters are rising at higher rates than most other part of the ocean. Vietnam has jailed three bloggers accused of spreading antigovernment propaganda, in a case criticised by human rights groups. The government, which does not allow freedom of expression, gave the three jail sentences of between four and 12 years. Source: BBC World News Facing the FIFO phenomenon
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