Objective: To explore how fly-in fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in drive-out (DIDO) mining affects the psychosocial well-being of miners resident in a rural north Queensland town as well as the sources of support miners identify and use in managing these effects.
Design: A descriptive qualitative study, using semistructured interviews.
Setting: Charters Towers, a rural town in north Queensland, and a remote north-western Queensland mine.
Participants: Eleven people, resident in or near Charters Towers, currently or formerly employed in FIFO or DIDO mining.
Main outcome measures: Self-reported effects on psychosocial well-being and sources of support.
Results: Participants reported positive and negative psychosocial impacts across domains including family life, relationships, social life, work satisfaction, mood, sleep and financial situation. Concerns about the impact on participants' partners were described. Awareness of onsite support, such as Employee Assistance Programs, varied. Other supports included administration staff and nurses or medics. Trusted friends or colleagues at the mine site were considered a preferred means of support. Some, but not most, had experienced coworkers discussing problems with them. A reluctance to seek support was described, with a number of barriers identified. Those having problems might not recognise their own stress and thus not seek support.
Conclusions: This study identifies numerous psychosocial impacts on FIFO/DIDO miners and their partners, and provides insights into preferences regarding support. Employee Assistance Programs cannot be relied upon as the sole means of support. Further studies exploring the impact upon and supports for FIFO/DIDO workers and their partners will assist in better understanding these issues.
© 2011 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health © National Rural Health Alliance Inc.