Mental Health in the Australian Resource Sector

A deeper look at the mining industry and FIFO work arrangements.

Mental health issues have become closely associated with the Australian resource sector, in particular with FIFO mining workers. To provide insight into this topic as the basis of future planning and innovation in addressing this challenge, Mental Health in the Australian Resource Sector: The Mining Industry and FIFO Work Arrangements gathers research from both inside and outside the industry. It highlights the essential role that adequate mental health plays in safe and productive workplaces, with significant implications for Australia’s resource sector. 

Increased awareness is shifting perceptions of the impact of and necessary response to mental health issues in the workplace. However, many workplaces and industries are failing to meet these expectations. Research suggests there is a possible elevated risk of mental health problems among FIFO workers due to the impacts of the work environment and logistics. The factors associated with mental illness combine the interplay of personal and social characteristics, plus workplace factors, such as isolation and high rates of alcohol abuse. In this way, mental health issues occur, interrelate and are exacerbated by the industry’s work structure. 

Encouragingly, research suggests the mental health risk factors in FIFO workplaces are not insurmountable. Instead, reasonable and achievable solutions in this area are easily identified. Broadly, future strategies should revolve around: improving access to mental health resources, developing an understanding of practical, industry-specific coping strategies, improving workplaces conditions to create a more mentally healthy environment. Effective implementation of such strategy relies on buy-in from senior organisational leaders and business owners, participation by employees throughout the organisation and the prioritisation of communication.

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