Since becoming an electrician after leaving school, I always wanted to earn the most money I could to set me up for a bright future financially. While the electrical wage was enough to survive, I realized I needed something more if I were to obtain the finer things in life. When I started my family, I began to look into working as a FIFO worker to obtain some financial freedom. The six-figure salary was the only attraction point and I jumped on the first opportunity that made itself available. Little did I know there was another side to being a FIFO worker that I had never considered.
I flew out to a remote point of central Queensland with dollar signs in my eyes. I checked into my camp, unpacking my belongings and settled myself into my new home for the next 3 weeks. My room was no bigger than an average sized bedroom containing a single bed, desk, tv and bathroom. This was where I would spend my spare time for the remainder of my roster.
My days consisted of waking up before the sun rose, packing my lunch and jumping on a bus to travel half an hour to the work site. The workdays were long (12 hours including travel) where, a majority of the time, you would return home after the sun had set. There were one of two things you could do in your spare time -, go to the gym , or drink your minimal quota of mid strength drinks at the bar. Because I don’t normally drink alcohol, I decided the gym was the better option. The gym consisted of one small de-mountable building in the middle of the camp, which was extremely overcrowded and difficult to get a good workout in with limited equipment. For dinner, you are packed into the food hall where you had limited food options. Usually feeling dissatisfied, you return to your room to call your family and prepare for your next day of work.
The days go by all blending into one and you begin feeling a sense of isolation, which takes a toll on you emotionally. Feeling very lonely and depressed, you call your family to find out about their day. My son had lost his first tooth and my daughter was struggling without having her dad at home, not to mention my partner was sleep deprived and running on empty. You begin to realize you are not the only person this lifestyle affects. You spend the remainder of your roster repeating these daily events like a cog in the machine.
While some camps have support groups including psychologists, it never really fills the void you feel from missing your loved ones. You begin to realize you are not the only one on camp feeling this way. Some people dive into drinking and make their problems worse. It was not uncommon to come across people with their head in their hands and the look of defeat in their eyes knowing they have to get up in the morning and do it all again.
Finally, the roster is over, and you are once again reunited with your family. The most common rosters are three weeks on, and one week off. You arrive home and settle back into your family life for the next few days knowing in the back of your mind you will shortly have to return to work.
As you question your motive for this lifestyle always in the back of your mind is the money. If only you can find a way of ‘Coping with the Aspects of Being a FIFO Worker’ so you can make this financially beneficial and minimize the impact on your family.
Have you experienced the downsides to FIFO life? I’d love to hear from you.