South West residents to have their say on new FIFO mental health code

FIFO families: Kody and Jodie Montgomery with their 15 month old daughter Hannah, believe shorter swings would help improve the mental health of workers. Photo: Emily Sharp.
FIFO families: Kody and Jodie Montgomery with their 15 month old daughter Hannah, believe shorter swings would help improve the mental health of workers. Photo: Emily Sharp.

South West residents will have the opportunity to have their say on mental health practises for fly-in fly-out workers with the release of a draft code of practice.

The state government released the draft to provide guidance on protecting FIFO workers’ mental health.

Mines and Petroleum and Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the code aimed to provide companies with guidance on managing mental illness at work.

“Creating a mentally healthy workplace not only benefits the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce but builds trust and respect,” he said. 

For Capel couple Kody and Jodie Montgomery, FIFO work has been part of their life for five years.

With a two week on and one week off roster they said it was manageable but changes were needed to help improve mental health across the industry. 

Mr Montgomery said the mental health of workers was monitored but only if individuals spoke up.

“If you go to your supervisor and say you’re not coping then they look out for you and get you on the next flight home if you need to go,” he said. 

“With some people you wouldn’t know because no-one really talks about it – I do struggle when I go back to work but I don’t struggle as much as a lot of others who have three or four kids.” 

Mr Montgomery said he believed mandatory shorter swings would help improve the mental health of workers.

“One of the guys I work with was on a 4:1 roster when his first child was born and a 2:1 roster with his second and you can see a big difference between the two,” he said.  

Mrs Montgomery said she didn’t know how people managed more than a 2:1 swing, with some days feeling like two weeks was impossible, especially since the birth of their daughter. 

“I understand financially that people need the money, but what amount of money is more important than your health?,” she said. 

The code was created after a report on the impact of FIFO practices on mental health.

The code will use a process to identify hazards and help protect mental health in the workplace, it is open for comment until April 19.

If you need help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.