A chance for the future
The Uniting Church’s Frontier Services has welcomed a parliamentary report which has highlighted the negative impact of fly-in fly-out and drive-in drive-out work practices on remote communities and urges all levels of Government and mining companies to act on the report’s findings.
The Parliamentary Inquiry, which began in 2011, found the growth of the resources industry and the accompanying FIFO/DIDO workforce practices “are exacerbating to an extreme level the divide between the cost of living in metropolitan and regional Australia”.
Frontier Services National Director Rosemary Young said she welcomed the view of the report that while the development of the resources industry should be a national priority, this should not come at the expense of regional Australia.
“The Inquiry has found, as we have found, that FIFO and DIDO practices have made it harder for remote communities to thrive and has eroded the ‘liveability’ of some remote communities.”
In its submission to the inquiry, Frontier Services explained how the enormous salaries offered to FIFO workers in the mining sector had made it harder to recruit people to work in essential services such as health, counselling and family support.
“We have seen the escalation of accommodation prices which is pushing out local people, we know community organisations are struggling to get numbers and we have observed the disconnect of people who fly in and fly out and do not belong in the community where they live or where they work,” Ms Young said.
The report identified the urgent need for a comprehensive Commonwealth Government Policy regarding FIFO/DIDO workforce practices and their impact on regional communities.
Frontier Services urged the Government to heed this and the report’s recommendations, specifically:
- The Productivity Commission be charged to investigate a more appropriate form of governance for remote Australia that is flexible and responsive
- A strategy to address the supply of affordable housing in resource communities
- A Commonwealth study on the impact of non-resident workers in regional resource towns in the provision of medical services and the development of a health policy that supports the sustainability of regional medical services
- The removal of exempt status, in relation to the Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act, of FIFO/DIDO work camps that are co-located with regional towns
“We agree that steps must be taken to ensure that FIFO/DIDO should be the exception rather than the rule and that measures can and should be in place to encourage workers to live in the communities where they work.”
“As a nation we should make every effort to build strong and sustainable communities in remote Australia.”