When we first learned of a potential move to Perth, being the planner that I am, started looking at the rental market in town – I was immediately struck (and perplexed) by the excessive use of the abbreviation F.I.F.O. in many of the listings. Obviously I Googled: “fly in, fly out” indicating that an employment whereby the employee works in a remote area and instead of relocating them (and their families) to the worksite, the employee flies out for a period of time, returns for a similar stretch of time, before returning back to the remote site.
Obviously this was a prevalent way of life (and employment) in Perth given the number of times it was referenced in real estate, but I didn’t realize there was such a culture around this type of employment in Perth until we moved here. The mining industry in Western Australia is primarily what drives FIFO.
Here you can see how FIFO workers across the country fly in (and fly out) of northwestern WA, where most of the mines operate:
Given that many of the mines/ports in Western Australia are far from (or in smaller) towns, the FIFO lifestyle is utilized. It is estimated that by 2015, there will be over 63,000 FIFO workers in Western Australia.
I’ve typically heard that FIFO work is about 2 weeks on, 2 weeks back in Perth. And of course, just like with any type of work, there are benefits and drawbacks, but given the importance of mining to Western Australia, there is never a shortage of news stories on FIFO work and workers. No matter where you stand, however, there is no denying the importance and sacrifice of FIFO workers here in Australia.
And lastly, as a demonstration as to how deeply ingrained and commonplace the FIFO culture and lifestyle is in Australia, below is my new favorite commercial (I literally turn into a blubbering mess any time it comes on TV here) – it features 5 Aussie travelers (flying Qantas of course!), coming home to their families (Qantas’ new slogan is “Welcome Home”), and one of those travelers is none other than a miner, presumably FIFO.
Until next time…