Queensland budget: FIFO workers dig deep in isolation
Summary: Queensland Labor’s budget spending spree is built on the sweat of mineworkers such as Troy Cuff, who leave their families behind for weeks at a time to reap the state’s rich coalfields.....
While voters are more than willing to enjoy the services underpinned by resources royalties, totalling more than $16 billion in the next four years, the emergency services officer said many did not recognise the heavy toll on the state’s mining workforce.
“Everyone thinks mining is glorious but you come out to mining and it’s very isolated,” the Gold Coast man, who spends alternate weeks on a coalmine in north Queensland, told The Australian.
“If there’s an emergency, we can’t just get in the car and drive home.
“A lot more people are looking to get away from the fly-in, fly-out lifestyle and taking huge cuts in their wages to do it because they get more time with family — their families become stronger because they’re home more.”
The state budget included more than $5.5 billion this year for concessions to help disadvantaged households make ends meet through subsidised electricity, dental care, car registration and spectacles.
Other subsidies include interest-free rental bond loans, subsidies for vocational education and training, and a 20 per cent rebate on pensioners’ local government rates notices.
Mr Cuff agreed Queenslanders in genuine need should have a helping hand, but said politicians too often ignored those families whose work kept the wheels of government turning.
“We also need to support those who are working longer hours, doing the hard yards and with the government benefiting from their taxes, so I definitely say we should at least get a look,” he said.
Mr Cuff said miners’ generous salaries often evaporated under the weight of divorce and child custody battles, and had hoped the budget would provide more mental health support for single fathers and fly-in, fly-out families.
“I’m glad that my partner has found a FIFO Facebook support page, and they support each other, and that’s the sort of thing where the government needs to spend more money and attention,” he said.
Mr Cuff noted that some mine workers worked away from home for three out of every four weeks, and he was aware of some who had ended their own lives.
He said his children would benefit from upgrades to state schools and was optimistic about volunteering at the new $3 million fire and rescue station slated for Pimpama should it accept auxiliaries.
The FIFO phenomenon has splintered the mining vote, with mineworkers living in suburban electorates up and down the coast.
Mr Cuff and his partner, Lydia Halim, both 45, live in Upper Coomera on the border between the marginal opposition-held seats of Coomera and Theodore.
Get support now
If the situation is urgent and you’re concerned you, or someone else, is in immediate danger do not leave the person alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety.
Call the person’s doctor, a mental health crisis service or dial 000 and say that the person’s life is at risk.
If the person agrees, you could go together to the local hospital emergency department for assessment.
Other services include:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
beyondblue Support Service 1300 22 4636
Mates in Construction on 1300 642 111
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800