Fly-in fly-out workforce practices in Australia: The effects on children and family relationships

Fly-in fly-out workforce practices in Australia: The effects on children and family relationships.

A limited but growing amount of Australian research into fly-in fly-out (FIFO) work practices tentatively suggests that a FIFO lifestyle can have positive, negative or few effects on children and on family relationships, depending on the circumstances. Effects vary according to a range of contextual factors, such as workplace cultures, rosters and recruitment practices, as well as community and home environments, and individual characteristics. As a result, there is a high level of complexity involved in understanding the FIFO lifestyle and how it may impact on outcomes for children and family relationships. Substantial limitations in regards to the available evidence highlight the need for further research.

Key findings:

  • Limited studies exist that explore the effects on children and family relationships of having a FIFO parent. Most FIFO couples report healthy, satisfying and cohesive relationships.
  • Potential impacts on children include: negative emotions experienced as a result of the FIFO parent's absence; increased levels of behaviour problems (particularly amongst boys) when the parent is away for longer periods; greater experiences of bullying at school; and increased pressure to succeed academically. However, some children view the extended time that a FIFO parent has at home as a positive outcome.
  • Parenting is a challenge for FIFO families, particularly for partners at home to manage the continual transitioning from solo parenting to co-parenting. The ability to communicate regularly, privately, effectively and spontaneously is an important factor that mediates the impact a FIFO lifestyle can have on children and families.
  • Family support services, policy-makers and practitioners need to be aware of the unique set of challenges faced by FIFO workers and their families.
  • Further research is needed that is longitudinal, engages with all types of FIFO workers and their families, and includes data collection prior to entry into FIFO work.
  • A FIFO lifestyle does not suit everyone. Families considering FIFO should thoroughly review the likely advantages and disadvantages to all members of the family.

Media release

Wind farms and human health (Public consultation for comment)

No reliable evidence exists that wind farms directly cause health problems, a review by the National Health and Medical Research Council has found.

However, the study by the NHMRC - Australia's peak medical and scientific research body - did link wind farms to a level of annoyance that can cause sleeplessness.

Still, NHMRC chief executive Warwick Anderson stressed that the evidence for this was of poor quality."It's important that it's recognised as an association and does not prove cause and effect," he said.   "Our conclusion is that there's no reliable or consistent evidence that wind farms directly cause adverse health effects in humans, but there's some less consistent and less-high-quality evidence that it might, they may be associated with annoyance or sleep disturbance and poorer quality of life."

The NHMRC has launched an NHMRC DraftInformation Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health which is open for public comment and consultation until 11 April, 2014.

The Information paper has been backed by a comprehensive, independent literature review, Systematic review of the human health effects on wind farms which details other current studies on the subject.

No reliable link between wind farms and health problems (ABC)

Wind farm report reassures residents (Central Western Daily

Consultation page

Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2008-09 (AIHW)

Health care expenditure on cardiovascular diseases 2008-09

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) makes a considerable impact on the health of Australians and has the highest level of health-care expenditure of any disease group. Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, health-care expenditure allocated to CVD increased by 48% from $5,207 million to $7,717 million. The health-care sector with the largest increase (55%) was hospital admitted patients.

Media release

Osteoporosis costing all Australians: a new burden of disease analysis – 2012 to 2022

Osteoporosis costing all Australians: a new burden of disease analysis – 2012 to 2022 updates previous burden of disease analyses undertaken in 2001 and 2007, and shows little progress is being made in preventing and managing osteoporosis in Australia.

Key Findings include :

Poor bone health: 2012-2022

  • 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (66% of people over 50) have osteoporosis or osteopenia or poor bone health.
  • Based on the 4.74 million Australians with poor bone health, 22% have osteoporosis and 78% have osteopenia.
  • By 2022, it is estimated there will be 6.2 million Australians over the age of 50 with osteoporosis or osteopenia. That is a 31% increase from 2012.

High fracture rates: 2012-2022

  • By 2022 there will be 1 fracture every 2.9 minutes. That is 501 fractures per day and 3,521 fracture per week.
  • This compares to a fracture every 8.1 minutes in 2001 and a fracture every 5-6 minutes in 2007.

Alarming costs to Government, the community and to individuals

  • In 2012, the total costs of osteoporosis and osteopenia in Australians over 50 years of age were $2.75 billion.
  • It is predicted that in 2022, the total costs will be $3.84 billion (2012$).

Call to action

Previous reports have included recommendations for action. What is telling is that the recommendations here are the same as previous reports.

  • That a re-fracture prevention initiative be funded to follow-up and co-ordinate the care of every Australian who has sustained their first fragility fracture.
  • That bone density testing for menopausal women aged 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis be reimbursed.
  • That more funding be provided for education and awareness programs about healthy bones as prevention is best, and the high rates of osteopenia are alarming.
  • New Report on Osteoporosis in the Asia Pacific Region

    The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has released a new Asia-Pacific Regional Audit : epidemiology, costs & burden of osteoporosis in 2013. The report covers 16 countries, including Australia and New Zealand and reveals osteoporosis is a serious problem throughout the Asia Pacific region.

    Fracture numbers are set to rise dramatically in the coming decades, it is projected that more than 50% of fractures in the world will occur in Asia by 2050. Other trends impacting bone health in the region include urbanisation and widespread vitamin D insufficiency. The report identifies gaps in current care, the expected future burden of the disease, but also presents cost-effective (and evidence-based) solutions.

    Working beyond 65—what’s realistic? The influence of health on longer working lives

    This report from the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre explores the relationship between health and remaining in the workforce past the age of 65 in Australia. It shows that people in good health are almost twice as likely to be employed as those with a chronic health condition. The report also finds that 80% of people working with a chronic health condition earn $500 or less per week, compared to 54% of those without a health condition. The most common conditions affecting people in this age group are arthritis and related disorders, hypertension, back problems, diabetes and heart disease. A concerning finding from the study is that many employed people with a chronic health condition believe that the income they earn is not enough to allow them to retire.

    Working beyond 65—what's realistic? The influence of health on longer working lives was written by D Schofield, E. Callander, S. Kelly and R. Shrestha for the NSPAC.

    Work health and safety statistics booklet

    In 2010-11 there were 132 570 workers' compensation claims for serious work-related injuries or illnesses in Australia, according to the Key Work Health and Safety Statistics Booklet Australia 2014, published by Safe work Australia.

    This equates to an incidence rate of 13.1 serious claims per 1000 employees. Preliminary figures from 2011-12 show that this figure has most likely improved.

    Some of the key findings were that males have a 25% higher rate of claims for serious injury than females, that claims increase with age, and that labourers and related workers have over double the rate of claims as other occupations.

    A typical serious workers' compensation claim involves 4 weeks absence from work and one-quarter of serious claims required 12 or more weeks off work. 58 out of every 1000 workers experienced an injury or illness in the workplace in 2009–10 but half of these incidents involved less than one day or shift absent from work.

    Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

    Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines are supported by a rigorous evidence review process that considered: the relationship between physical activity (including the amount, frequency, intensity and type of physical activity) and health outcome indicators, including the risk of chronic disease and obesity; and the relationship between sedentary behaviour/sitting time and health outcome indicators, including the risk of chronic disease and obesity.

    The webpage contains Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines including links to brochures, tips and ideas and evidence review reports.

    Medicare Locals in Australia (Australian Medicare Local Alliance)

    "In a short period of time, nationally coordinated and locally driven Medicare Locals have made a positive difference in their communities. Not only are they keeping people well and out of hospital, they have demonstrated their potential to realise even greater outcomes through driving further change in the health care system. Building on the lessons learnt to date, the national network of Medicare Locals is committed to working with the Government to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians by delivering a sustainable, well integrated and effective national primary health care system."

    Submitted to the Department of Health on the 23 December 2013, this report is AML Alliance's response to the Medicare Local Review addressing each terms of reference item. The report contains details about Medicare Locals services, and several practical case studies.

    Media release

    New resource for post mastectomy care

    A research team at the University of Sydney in collaboration with Cancer Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia has developed a new online resource that takes women through the process of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.

    The online resource, hosted on the Cancer Australia website, provides a comprehensive guide for women considering surgical breast reconstruction and helps guide them through the challenging decision-making process. It covers essential information on the types of breast reconstruction available, deciding whether or not to choose reconstruction surgery, and living with a breast reconstruction.

    The resource also provides valuable information for health professionals providing care and support for women following a mastectomy.

    Press release

    Type 2 diabetes in Australia's children and young people: a working paper (AIHW)

    Type 2 diabetes in Australia's children and young people identifies and describes national data sources to monitor incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children and young people and assesses their suitability for this task. This working paper also presents, for the first time, national incidence and prevalence estimates of type 2 diabetes in Australia's children and young people.

    Closing the Gap report 2014

    Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has delivered the 6th annual Closing the Gap report.

    Key findings:

    • While there has been a small improvement in Indigenous life expectancy, progress will need to accelerate considerably if the gap is to be closed by 2031.
    • The target to halve the gap in child mortality within a decade is on track to be met.
    • In 2012, 88 per cent of Indigenous children in remote areas were enrolled in a pre-school programme. Data for 2013, to show whether the 95 per cent benchmark for this target has been met, will be available later this year.
    • New data on whether enrolled children are actually attending school should also be available later this year.
    • Progress against the target to halve the gap in reading, writing and numeracy within a decade has been disappointing. Only two out of eight areas have shown a significant improvement since 2008.
    • The target to halve the gap for Indigenous people aged 20–24 in Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2020 is on track to be met.
    • No progress has been made against the target to halve the employment gap within a decade.

    Closing the Gap: Tony Abbott delivers mixed report card on Indigenous disadvantage (ABC)

    PM Tony Abbott's Close the Gap full speech

    Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) – Indigenous Health & Cultural Competency (IH&CC) project – New Module Series Launched

    The ACEM has developed a comprehensive e-learning series covering a range of topics in Indigenous health and cultural competency. The modules have an ED context but the principles, knowledge and skills explored will be relevant for many other health practitioners as well. The first four new modules in the series of 10 are publically available.

    They include case studies, videos of interviews with doctors, aboriginal liaison officers and cultural educators, and are grounded in the evidence of how culturally competent care can improve patient outcomes.

    The first four modules are:
    1. Introduction to culturally competent care
    2. Culturally competent communication
    3. Understanding health literacy and diversity of health beliefs
    4. Understanding language diversity and working with interpreters.