Inquiry says FIFO workers should sign good behaviour pacts

by Iain Hopkins14 Feb 2013

FIFO workers should sign good behaviour pactsA Federal Government inquiry has recommended mining companies consider getting fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers to sign ‘social contracts’ promising good and proper behaviour.

After an 18 month investigation into the impacts of FIFO on Australian life, the Federal parliamentary committee revealed its findings in Cancer of the Bush or Salvation for our Cities?. It found communities in rural areas believe the workers contributed to violence, predatory behaviour and alcohol and drug use in their towns.

The report also highlighted major areas needed change, and identified an “us versus them” mentality that troubled communities and created divisions between locals and FIFO workers.

Communities in the north-west of Western Australia host some 90,000 FIFO workers, and these communities are desperately in need on improved social integration – one way to achieve this, it suggested, would be to get all FIFO workers sign social contracts. Such contracts would require workers commit to responsible behaviour when on and off duty, as well as improve integration between miners and host towns.

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, said yesterday that while the drunken antics of FIFO workers remains a big issue, social contracts are not the answer. “I dare say that type of thing would happily be signed by the good people and the people that carry on like dills, which I think is the minority, would probably sign it anyway and not change their behaviour,” he said.

“What solves the problem is having less FIFO workers and you're only going to have less FIFO workers if we can get the liveability, the amenity . . . all of those things in the Pilbara right,” Grylls added.

Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett, who is standing for Labor against Grylls, agreed that enforcing the contracts would be difficult. She said bringing people together in the community would be a more practical solution.

Report committee chairman Tony Windsor, who tabled the document in Parliament yesterday, said that while FIFO was not a new practice, it was now eroding the liveability of regional communities. The impact on the families and children of FIFO workers also needs to be investigated further after mixed evidence from the public, which ranged from little effect, to devastating consequences for those family members left at home.


  • by sandy 14/02/2013 3:40:38 PM

    social contracts? Goodness who is coming up with this stuff. Employers already have codes of conduct and expectations included in the employees contracts of employment.

  • by Julian 14/02/2013 4:45:00 PM

    Agreed with Sanday. A social contract will do no more than a poolsign that says "Pool area closed after 10pm".

    I feel there are much greater underlying issues with FIFO operations, such as family issues, infrastructure and affordable accomodation. Bad behaviour is not something unique to FIFO operations. A Saturday night out in Kings Cross, Melbourne or the Valley in Brisbane would be much worse than a night out in a country town with FIFO workers.

  • by Behave 18/02/2013 8:25:59 AM

    I have a mate who is a pilot for one of the regional carriers. Every flight he has at least one incident of a FIFO worker on the plane misbehaving. One a couple of occasions the plane has been met by the Federal police on the runway. I am certainly not begrudging miners the chance to wind down and let their hair out and have some fun after being stuck in a dirt pit for a few weeks......But common sense and acting like adults comes first.

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