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Fly-in fly-out study

Thursday, 13 October 2011

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ECU researchers are investigating the effect that a parent’s fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employment has on the health and wellbeing of their adolescent children.

PhD student Jacinth Watson, from ECU’s Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC), is seeking families with adolescents aged from 12 to 17 for the study.

She would like to hear from both families with a FIFO parent and those without.

Ms Watson said the FIFO work roster, common in the resources and construction sectors, was a relatively recent phenomenon in Western Australia and there was no research on how the regular absences of a parent affected their adolescent’s capacity to be resilient.

“We want to know if adolescents who live in FIFO families adapt to the absence of the parent and become more self reliant, develop higher levels of self esteem and have increased capacity to be resilient,” she said.

“Or is the absence of the parent a disruptive effect on the adolescent, making it more difficult for them to cope with other challenges in their life?”

Initial results of Ms Watson’s study have found:

  • 73.5% of adolescents are sad when the FIFO parent returns to work;
  • 43.1% felt nervous or anxious when the FIFO parent returns to work;
  • 45.6% worry about the FIFO parent’s safety at work;
  • 86.8% communicate with their FIFO parent (when the parent is at work). The telephone is the most frequent means of communication for the FIFO parent and adolescent, with email (84.3%) SMS (34.5%) and Facebook (25.8%) also used.

Families interested in participating in the study are invited to email Ms Watson.

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