Some miners fear they might lose their jobs if they see pshychologists.
Some miners fear they might lose their jobs if they see pshychologists. Simon Green

FIFO workers refuse mental health help, fear for job

SOME fly-in, fly-out workers with mental health problems refuse to seek help from mining company-employed psychologists for fear they might be sacked.

Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said this issue repeatedly cropped up when he and his fellow MPs travelled central Queensland as part of the inquiry into FIFO and other long-distance commuting work practices.

"On our regional tour basically everywhere we went there was at least one worker that was in the crowd that spoke pretty strongly on the fact they believe if they were to see one of these psychologists or a mental health professional they would be targeted and potentially sacked," he said.

During the Brisbane public hearing on Wednesday Mr Butcher said the most worried group was made up of contractors.

"They were concerned if they went for some help they would be told there would be no work for them from next week," he said

BHP Billiton told the inquiry the company was trying to break down the stigma around using psychological services.

The mining giant's human resources head Sonia Lewis said no one from the company knew which workers sought help from psychologists.

She said even in her role the only information she received was how many employees had visited a psychologist or mental health worker and their key concerns, such as divorce and job security.

The inquiry held public hearings in Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Moranbah, Dysart, Middlemount, Emerald, Blackwater and Moura. 

MPs v mining giant

BHP Billiton has told Queensland MPs it was fair to refuse jobs to people living near fly-in, fly-out mines.

Indignant Gregory MP Lachlan Millar  repeatedly asked the company's corporate affairs vice president, Victoria Somlyay if it was fair not to hire workers for its FIFO Caval Ridge mine because they lived locally.

Mr Millar said it was unfair that a Moranbah  resident could not apply for a job at the Caval Ridge mine, 17km south of the town, because they did not tick the company's requirement that they must live within 100km of the Brisbane Airport.

The mine has received more than 33,000 applications.

The company said FIFO mines were 26% more productive based on annual reports.


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