Worker praises FIFO lifetsyle

PETER Brady  says those considering fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work need to ask themselves one vital question – can they handle the isolation?

While working in a remote part of South Australia has benefited Mr Brady and his family, he believed not everyone was built for such demanding work.

‘‘They need to talk to their families, try and get on with a sub-contractor and do some casual work,’’ the 56-year-old said.

‘‘You’ll determine pretty quickly if you can handle it – physically and mentally.’’

Mr Brady and wife Sue moved to Barrack Heights in 1999.

He was initially employed to help re-develop the copper smelter at Port Kembla and was working with Transfield Services in a seconded role to BlueScope  at the time of their mass job cuts last year.

Mr Brady saw the writing on the wall and took voluntary redundancy.

He spent seven months as a FIFO casual in Mandurah, Western Australia, but found extended stints away from home, including one nine-week stretch too much.

‘‘The surroundings were beautiful,’’ he said.

‘‘If my wife wanted to move over I would have in a flash.

‘‘But because our family is here, South Australia was the best option.’’

About five months ago Transfield offered him a stable job working two weeks on, two weeks off, stationed at a natural gas processing plant in Moomba,  located on the South Australian-Queensland border and on the edge of the Simpson Desert.

‘‘I planned to semi-retire at 55, but didn’t have the money,’’ he said.

‘‘There are a lot of rewards. FIFO has allowed me to have a similar lifestyle to being semi-retired.

‘‘One of the benefits is getting to spend more time with (three-month-old grandson) Brodie  than I did with my own daughter at the same age.’’

While office-bound and working in oil and gas exploration meant he wasn’t ‘‘going down a hole’’, the role still presented challenges.

‘‘It’s long hours, but once you get over the hump, you’re okay.’’

Local job seekers have the chance to fill vacancies created by Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings iron ore project in remote Western Australia.

In late September-early October, the Shellharbour region will host one of two jobs forums planned to recruit some of the 8500 workers needed during the $9.5billion project’s construction phase.

Mr Brady predicted further downsizing at BlueScope, meaning increasing numbers would consider FIFO. He said it was largely ideal for younger people.

However, with some roles requiring three weeks on, one week off, they had to carefully consider options. 

‘‘I think it’d be hard to leave a young family,’’ he said.

He said a former BlueScope co-worker with whom he had worked   had suffered a breakdown because he couldn’t handle the isolation.

‘‘You have to adjust your lifestyle, so you don’t just sit in your room and feel imprisoned.’’

Mrs Brady, who works for The Smith Family, said that although it wasn’t her first preference they made FIFO work.

‘‘The alternative was do this, or we’d have to move, or one of us would be unemployed,’’ she said.

‘‘We’ve got elderly parents, other family here, a job that I love, friends. During that two weeks I get to catch up with friends,  work long hours.

‘‘Then when he comes back we enjoy the time together.’’

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