FIFO’s DIDO’s and NRW’s.
These are the acronym’s for Fly In/ Fly Out, and Drive In/ Drive Out , the men and ladies you frequently see in Hi-Vis work gear when you are coming or going ,at Brisbane or Perth airports. They are principally Non Resident Workers in the communities near their work sites.
They work hard, often 84 hour weeks, channeling the coal, alumina or iron ore into our economy. They earn big money.
The FIFO can live anywhere and may work a roster as much as a month on or month off.
The DIDO usually lives within a days drive of the work site ,and may work a shorter roster.
These workers are great for Andrew Forrest, Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, some of the world’s wealthiest people, but do little for the economy of the communities near the mines.
In fact if we take area’s like Central Queensland, which until 40 years ago relied mainly on the pastoral industry, and the surrounding towns which were the hub for the sheep, cattle, and cotton properties, we can see the changes and the problems that this boom has caused.
The town of Moranbah is 1000km north of Brisbane and around 200km from Mackay, the closest coastal city. Moranbah is a coal town, the industry started in the late 1970’s and is still growing. This growth has severely impacted on the local community.
There are acute housing shortfalls, rental prices around $2500 per week are common, fine if you are on $150.000 a year.
This in turn creates problems finding staff for lowly paid jobs like motels ,shops, local councils. Many shops in the main street have closed because they cannot find staff.
The road between Moranbah and Mackay is considered one of the most dangerous in the State. It was not designed for the current volume of traffic, and the fatigue factor with miners coming off a 12 hour shift and heading into a 2 hour drive, contributes to the danger.
Local medical facilities are stretched to the limit with the local hospital designed for 23,000 people servicing a shifting community of 53,000.
The long term residents of towns like Moranbah have a ” them and us” attitude to the FIFO people. They resent the big money, they miss the sense of community they no longer have.
Even with the big bucks, all is not easy for the FIFO. It is an abnormal transient life, sleeping in a “donga ” , eating in a canteen, not seeing your girlfriend or wife, or kids ,for weeks at a time.
Alcohol and gambling are often issues in the mining camps. Pub and club brawls are common, and there is evidence that online gambling is a common problem .
With a large workforce of single miners, the latest FIFO workers are from the sex industry. Prostitutes routinely make between $6000 and $10000 per week in mining towns. This has created problems for motel owners.
In a current test case a motel owner was sued by a prostitute citing discrimination because they banned her from carrying out her work on their premises. She lost the case, but has appealed.
Prostitution in these circumstances is not illegal in either Qld or W.A, so does the motel owner have the right to prohibit the sex worker?