FIFO relocation sets up unintended effect of mental wellness

Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers from the eastern states are being encouraged to permanently move to Western Australia, which could inadvertently result in mental health improvements.

Western Australia’s hard border closure, which was aimed to contain COVID-19, has caused many FIFO workers to temporarily relocate to the state.

In a bid to attract more FIFO workers to Western Australia, the state government has teamed up with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) to offer a $20,000 building bonus grant for new homes construction.

Safe to Work understands that reducing work travel distances could impact the mental health of FIFO workers positively.

The Western Australian Mental Health Commission in 2018 studied the impacts of FIFO travel on the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers, noting that heightened feelings of anxiety and depression were common.

FIFO workers scored higher in feelings of anxiety and depression than the group representing the general population, with one third of FIFO workers reporting either “high” or “very high” levels of psychological distress in the study.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said there was plenty more to offer FIFO workers seeking a permanent residency.

“Western Australia is a great place to live and has a lot to offer those who already work here, but currently reside in homes in the eastern states,” he said.

“We expect by offering the building bonus to these workers, it will provide a strong incentive for them to make the move to WA, and build a new home.

“They are already working here on mining or oil and gas sites across the state. We want as many of these workers as possible to consider making a home in WA, and I’d particularly encourage them to learn about some of our fantastic communities in regional WA.

“By relocating to WA permanently, we can further support WA small businesses and continue to grow our economy as we continue the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”