Skip to main content

FIFO worker: Everything You Need to Know

22 March 2022

FIFO worker: Everything You Need to Know

Being a FIFO worker can bring great lifestyle benefits. FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) jobs involve being transported out to site from a central location, commonly a city centre.

This allows workers to take on highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in remote locations without having to relocate their lives and families.

FIFO employees work in shifts for the time of their “swing”. These work blocks vary but are often for at least seven days in one roster, followed by a stretch of time back at home.

When on shift, the workers live in on-site catered accommodation. Australia’s mining industry is a common provider of FIFO jobs.

Considering being a FIFO worker? Here is everything you need to know. 

FIFO jobs: What to consider

FIFO jobs offer a range of benefits – and challenges – that people thinking about getting a FIFO job should consider.

There are the financial rewards of a good job in the mines, as well as the ability to work and live in remote locations. Some people form strong friendships due to the around-the-clock nature of the work, and the recreation facilities available at many work camps.

The rosters also provide more annual leave than a regular job.

A study from the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining found the majority of surveyed workers were satisfied with their FIFO lifestyle, their accommodation and health and wellbeing[1].

Almost nine out of 10 FIFO workers were satisfied with their job (86 per cent), their salary (89 per cent) and eight out of ten were happy with their job security and shift length (80 per cent).

But, for some people there are difficulties. Some may find it isolating or challenging to work long shifts or miss out on events back at home. Shift work in general can be hard to adapt to for some people[2].

In the same survey, while three-quarters of respondents said they had good or very good health, 20 per cent reported sleep disturbances, 60 per cent said long distance commuting interfered with their home and family life, and 40 per cent said they felt lonely or socially isolated to some degree.

The survey’s authors said: “Perhaps the most important finding from this survey is the extent to which respondents value their privacy and personal space.”

Another report from Western Australia – where the practice is common – found sleep, burnout, and feelings of psychological distress were more common among FIFO workers.

What is a FIFO worker?

A FIFO worker plays an important role in the mining and resources industry.

Many operational jobs onsite can be FIFO jobs. These range from truck drivers, electricians and diesel fitters, to machine operators, mechanics, fitters and security officers. Miners, drillers, cleaners and other tradesperson roles can also be FIFO jobs.

There are thousands of FIFO workers around the country, efficiently moving where they are needed.

While the numbers of FIFO workers change, a 2015 Queensland Treasury report found the non-resident populations – either FIFO or drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workers across central Queensland’s Bowen, Surat and Galilee Basins, and the Gladstone region totalled about 40,400 in 2013[3].

The number of FIFO and DIDO workers in the region more than doubled between 2006 and 2012, due to the construction of new mines and expansion of existing operations. This figure fell once the mines were operational.

A 2021 update estimated the non-resident population of the central Queensland Bowen Basin region at 19,000 in June 2020.

What is FIFO?

FIFO allows more people to participate in Australia’s biggest export industry, the resources industry. This includes the highest proportion of First Nations Australians of any private industry, according to the Queensland Resources Council.

It is a key factor in the development of new projects, given ongoing skills shortages and many people wanting to stay in their urban homes and remain their family life and social networks.

FIFO jobs differ considerably, with a range of conditions, rosters, allowances, wages and accommodation.

On-site villages are often custom-made with a gym, pool, recreation facilities, laundry, dining halls or a “mess”. The rooms – which can be single or shared – are called dongas. These vary but are generally studio-sized, furnished and professionally cleaned.

FIFO at the Carmichael Mine

Bravus Mining & Resources offer FIFO contracts to mining operations professionals through our contractor MacKellar.

Based at the primary recruitment hubs of Rockhampton and Townsville, the direct access to the mine means workers can finish their shift and be home within two hours.

To find out more about FIFO jobs at Carmichael Mine, and get the facts on the project, visit our jobs portal.