Last week the Queensland state government said it would allow 20 per cent of the Bowen Basin mining work force to fly in and fly out at the beginning and end of shifts.
A typical roster sees workers do seven days from the mine site and stay in provided for accommodation then fly back to be home for the next seven days.
Sue Price from Men’s Rights Agency says great instability is created at home when a parent is only there half of the time.
“I think it’s got to be one of the worst inventions possible for the ongoing wellbeing of families.
“It destroys the family structure, it removes one parent from the children’s life and the home life – they become very much like a visitor in their children’s lives who’s going to bring home the money and that’s all they become valued for,” she said.
Ms Price said society has become too focused on the need to be wealthy rather than on maintaining strong relationships.
“I think we place too much emphasis on money… I think we need to tone down our needs and requirements and think money isn’t everything.
“A good relationship with your wife or partner, a good relationship with your children, being there for your children is far more important than having the brand new television screen and all the mod -cons you want,” she said.
Feedback from fly-in fly-out workers suggest to Ms Price men often struggle to maintain their romantic relationship with their partner.
“Most men when they marry or take a partner – that partner becomes their mate- they become their lifelong friend and of course that friendship is destroyed when they are no longer living together or they are living together one out of three weeks.
“It’s not enough, it’s insufficient.
“The children don’t know where they are, this man comes home for one week and suddenly life in the house is changed because of his presence,” she said.
A counsellor with Relationships Australia, Mike Fry, said he’s seen many cases of the men on fly-in fly-out rosters trying to rescue a breakdown in family life.
“Quite often I get guys come in and say they’ve come home from work and they’ve been told the relationship’s over and the family has moved on and said they’re not there very often or not all the time so they don’t need them there anyway.
“With the child support arrangements the income is still there so the guys providing the income and not living with his family anymore,” he said.
Mr Fry said the impact of the roster on the family life can be gradual.
‘I think the intentions are good, they start of thinking it’s all about being able to provide for the family and being able to afford the sort of things people need these days to keep up with other people.
“It’s a gradual thing… people adapt to a degree but then because they’re not there to interact with their children or their partner… they usually fill that in another way with friends or activities, and then when the partner comes home they don’t have time for them,” he said.
Mr Fry said it’s important to communicate their family expectations before entering a fly-in fly-out roster.
“If people work as partner’s where one says I’ll provide the care for the family if you can provide the income then when your home you will be welcomed back.
“So having that ability to work on relationships with partners and children and being able to sustain those relationships despite the absences,” he said.