Lament of the FIFO
The West Australian 12 Oct 2019 KATE RYAN
Too many of WA’s fly-in, fly-out workers blow their pay packets on takeaway meals, drugs and alcohol and have nothing to show for it in their savings.
Speaking at the FIFO Mental Health Summit this week, Investwise managing director Daniel McQuillan spoke bluntly about how the expensive lifestyle some FIFO workers lead is leaving them in a financial black hole.
“People are using Uber Eats two, three, four nights a week. What they don’t understand is (that’s) $130 to $150 a week (that) they could be putting into their mortgage,” Mr McQuillan said.
“They’ve got Netflix. They’ve got Stan. They’ve got just about every streaming media that’s available to them.”
Former FIFO worker Lachlan Samuel said that while he could earn $2000 a week working on Kalgoorlie mine sites, the lifestyle was detrimental to his well-being and family life.
He said he believed the perception of being wealthy and doing well, especially on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, is what kept FIFO workers in the industry.
This is despite the fact that many were struggling privately.
“Coming in green to the mining industry, I was probably on about $2000 a week,” he said.
“I remember spending about $1000 that first week on alcohol.
“When I worked in Kalgoorlie, I spent around $300,000 on drugs and alcohol.
“I had terrible financial habits and I needed to keep working to provide that lifestyle for myself.
“You’re stuck working FIFO to make that sort of money to provide a lifestyle that you don’t even get to live.”
Mr Samuel said the isolation of FIFO work was also among a raft of issues which caused his mental health to decline and led to the breakdown of his relationship and consequent suicide attempt.
The summit was held in response to a State Government report last year which found FIFO workers were almost twice as likely to be affected by depression and anxiety than the general population.
About 63,000 people in WA are a part of the FIFO workforce.
Mr McQuillan, whose company helps FIFO workers struggling with debt, said financial issues were alarmingly common since workers were consistently spending more than they earned and not saving.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14