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Raising adolescents: Developing strategies for fly in/fly out parents

In Australia the increased use of fly in/fly out (and drive in/drive out) (FIFO/DIDO) work patterns has exposed more Western Australian families to the repeated and cyclical absence of parents who adopt this mode of paid employment. The potential disruption to parenting behaviour and the impact of this on adolescent mental health created by one parent flying in and out of the family on a regular basis requires urgent investigation to facilitate support for parents in FIFO/DIDO families that raise adolescent children to reduce the stresses and strains that are an integral part of the FIFO/DIDO lifestyle.

There is much anecdotal evidence that suggests the FIFO/DIDO work patterns have negative impacts on workers and their families such as: relationship problems for couples; excessive alcohol use and drug use by workers; and a negative impact on child and adolescent health and wellbeing. However, there is to date very little empirical research available to establish the extent of the anecdotal concerns within the population of FIDO/DIDO workers and their families. While some recent research has explored the impact of the FIFO/DIDO roster on family structure, none can be found which describes the impact of a FIFO/DIDO family lifestyle on adolescent children. This significant gap in our current knowledge is alarming given the critical period of development occurring during adolescence. Moreover, there are very few resources available to FIFO/DIDO families who are raising adolescent children to support their parenting during this critical time of adolescent development. Therefore, the objective of this study is to explore the needs of parents exposed to the FIFO work pattern in raising adolescent children and develop and test the usefulness of parenting resources specific to this family structure.

The study consists of three phases. Phase one will include face-to-face interviews with three cohorts of FIFO/DIDO families to identify the benefits and barriers to effective parenting of adolescent children by parents in FIFO/DIDO families. These data will be analysed and resources developed for FIFO/DIDO families in Phase two. The resource will be piloted with FIFO/DIDO families and data concerning its use and satisfaction will be collected and incorporated into the final version of the resource for FIFO/DIDO families with adolescent children in Phase three. There are several mental health promotion implications for this project with the most significant relating to the development of parenting resources that can promote adolescent mental health in an engaging and effective manner. This project would represent the first of its kind to promote mental health to and for this cohort.

Project duration

2012 - 2013

Funding body

Healthway (Health Promotion Foundation of Western Australia)


Associate Professor Stacey Waters
Ms Jacinth Watson
Ms Leanne Lester
Dr Barbara Spears
Ms Elizabeth Wenden


Ms Elizabeth Wenden

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