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FIFO Worker Mental Health and Wellbeing:

The impact of COVID-19

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'No end in sight': Border closures take mental toll on Mandurah FIFO workers

WA's tough border policy has been credited with keeping virus numbers low in the state, but for those separated from their loved ones it is coming at a cost. For FIFO worker Kyle, who has not been able to return to WA for seven weeks, the isolation has left him struggling with a sense of perpetual uncertainty.

More media articles:

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Key messages from the research

  • Results show mental health is worse in 2020

  • Support is still a key protective factor for mental health and wellbeing

  • Flexibility with workload models (work from home, time off, flexible rosters) is appreciated by workers

  • Communication with home is really important to workers, and having flexibility to contact home when needed

  • Workers recognise and appreciate social connections on-site

  • COVID-19 rules limit people’s freedoms, but also make workers feel safe.

  • Balancing these rules is important to maintain social connection.

What is important to consider right now?

  • Regularly checking in on workers’ mental health

  • Providing support

  • Flexibility with workload, and work models

  • Make accommodations for work-life balance as needed

  • Facilitate social connections: with home and on-site

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Survey: FIFO work during COVID-19

In 2018 more than 3000 FIFO workers participated in a project on FIFO workers' experiences and wellbeing. Many important recommendations emerged from the report which were disseminated widely with health professionals, consultants and representatives from the resources industry. Thank you if you participated in that research. Since then, much has changed for many FIFO workers, and we are seeking to understand those changes and the impact on your lives. 

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of our lives and how FIFO work operates is no exception. It is important that we understand the impacts of the current COVID-19 situations on workers. You are invited to complete this survey on FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) work and wellbeing. The research is being conducted by a team of experts from Curtin University and University of Western Australia led by Professor Sharon Parker and Dr Jess Gilbert at the Centre for Transformative Work Design. 

Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) has approved this study (HRE2018-0449)

FINAL FIFO worker MH and Wb summary 2020

As part of this study, we offered all participants to enter in a prize draw for a chance to win one of 10 x $150 vouchers.

All winners have been contacted.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the aim of the research?

The research investigates mental health and wellbeing in FIFO workers during COVID-19 and aims to identify the attributes of FIFO workplaces that contribute to mental health.

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Who is funding the study?

This research is being funded by the Australian Research Council; which is the major funding body for research in Australia. This research is independent from any specific interests of unions, companies, industry bodies, or other stakeholders. The research has been granted approval from Curtin University’s Human Research Ethics Committee.

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Who can participate?

Employees working in a FIFO role in the resources industry in Australia.


What happens to the data collected?

The data you provide will be used for research purposes only and results will be made publicly available here as the study progresses.

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What would I be asked to do if I took part?

Taking part will involve completing a survey. In the survey, you will be asked to consider a number of statements about your workplace and your well-being and mental health in the context of changes that have occurred due to COVID-19.


We will also ask you for some basic demographic information. 
If you are happy to be involved in continuing to contribute to this study, we would like to invite you to also complete two shorter surveys about your wellbeing over the next 2 months. We would also invite you to chat with us about your experience during COVID-19 in an interview.


How is confidentiality maintained?

All information you provide will be kept confidential. None of your individual responses will be passed on to any person outside the research team. De-identified individual level data may be shared with other researchers. All data will be stored within the university. 

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What happens if I do not want to take part or if I change my mind? 

It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you decide to take part you are still free to withdraw at any time without giving a reason and without detriment to yourself.


Will I be paid for participating in the research?

There is no payment for taking part. However, you can enter your details into a prize draw for one of ten $150 vouchers.


What is the duration of the research?

Completing the questionnaire should take approximately 30 minutes.


What if something goes wrong? 

If there are any issues regarding this research, or you need help or advice after completing the questionnaire, please contact:

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Will the outcomes of the research be published?

We expect that the results of this study will be published in academic journals and communicated to stake holders and government bodies. This will only include summary data and no information from individual surveys will be passed on. We will provide updates on the findings here on the website, with special attention to organisational strategies that have been helpful in supporting workers during COVID-19.

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Dr Laura Fruhen

Professor Sharon Parker

Check out the findings from our previous research on FIFO workers' mental health and wellbeing
(conducted in 2018) 
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