The psycho-social wellbeing of children from fly in/fly out mining families

Child health Families Commuting Child mental health Fly-in fly-out workers Labour mobility Perth

The children of fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) mining employees are exposed to the risk factors for depressive disorders of regular father absence associated with hazardous employment conditions, together with disruptions to family routines. In the absence of previous research in this area, this exploratory study sought to determine whether the levels of depressive symptomatology, anxiety and perceptions of family function of 30 primary school-aged children whose fathers were in FIFO employment were less healthy than those of a Control Group of 30 children whose fathers did not have FIFO employment. The mothers' perceptions of family function were also compared. The children were matched on age and gender. Analysis comparing the two groups of children's scores on the Children's Depression Inventory (Kovacs, 1992), the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (Reynolds & Richmond, 2000), and the General Function sub-scale of the McMaster Family Assessment Device (Epstein, Baldwin 7 Bishop, 1983), found no significant differences. Both groups were functioning at healthy levels in the three areas. Significant differences between the scores of the two groups of mothers on the Communication, Affective Response, Affective Involvement, Behaviour Control and General Functioning sub-scales of the FAD were found. In addition, the FIFO mothers perceived unhealthy family function in the areas of Roles and Affective Involvement. These results indicate that further research, focussing on mediating variables including mothers' wellbeing and FIFO characteristics, is warranted to clarify the impact of FIFO employment on families and children.

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