FIFO Focus

Developing resilient FIFO workers and building psychologically healthy workplaces.

FIFO Life Part 70: Not at home when things go wrong?

FIFO Focus Director Sandra Lam joins Matt Layton as part of the REDFM series FIFO Life.

In part 70, Sandra talks to Matt about one of the biggest challenges of working FIFO, not being at home when things go wrong.


Not at home when things go wrong?

One of the major challenges of working FIFO is not being home when things go wrong. A listener of Red FM placed a request for us to provide some tips for situations like this and Sandra responded with the following piece of advice and suggestions. You can listen to the audio above if you prefer:

1) It’s always a good thing to share what’s happening at home with your partner on site. This allows them to feel connected and part of the family. It also allows them to feel valued and their opinion and advice matters. Even if you don’t share what’s going on as the situation unfolds and prefer to share after the situation is under control, that’s ok, as long as that’s what BOTH of you agree is best for your relationship.

2) The person at home facing the situation generally wants one or a few of these three things (a) to vent (b) to seek advice, or (c) to feel appreciated and acknowledged that he/she does face tough times and it’s hard to do it alone but they can do it. RARELY do they want the FIFO partner to fix it. Which is generally what the FIFO partner subconsciously thinks they need to do. This is important to know, they do not want you to fix it…. they have it under control and only want your support and guidance. You’re a team.

3) The FIFO partner will feel a range of emotions ranging from helplessness to anger but the underlying emotion that fuels these other emotions is guilt. Guilt for putting the partner in this situation by doing FIFO, guilt for not being available to help, guilt for not putting things in place to prevent this from happening. The first step for the FIFO worker is to label the emotion as guilt. The second step is to understand what guilt is – the underlying belief that you caused harm. The third step is to realise there is no way you can control everything at home, and things do happen. It’s part of life, FIFO or not. The final step is to figure out what your role is in whatever grief has been caused to your partner. Your role could simply be a supportive ear.

When you are next together, take some time to discuss the validity of these things and share your points of view. Discussions like that can only bring you closer as a couple and strengthen your team spirit when separated by work.

If you have a request for a topic, please feel free let us know or log it on the REDFM website where you can also win a prize (WA only sorry) –

Want to keep updated with new tips to support your FIFO life? Click here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article or audio file is intended to provide guidance and should not be considered a replacement for professional health related advice or crisis services. Should you have specific concerns relating to any of the subject matters discussed in this article, please seek appropriate professional medical or mental health services. For crisis situations, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue national depression initiative on 1300 22 4636.


Hear this Segment

Learn more about FIFO Health Programs

Want to know more about improving your FIFO health? There's more information available on our Programs page.
Learn more