QUEENSLAND mining families raking in six-figure salaries are more stable than an average family in the state, says a CQUniversity researcher investigating the fly-in fly-out (FIFO) mining arrangements.
Mining couples interviewed by Dr Karin Stokes from the Centre of Environmental Management say they are prepared to put family time on hold to cash in on extra dollars for the family's future wealth and "still remain happy".
Dr Stokes started the research three weeks ago to find out how miners were coping in the workforce and what the social impacts were on families. She has interviewed eight couples so far, mostly from Central Queensland mines, and hopes to interview 30 in total.
She said couples were likely to strategise five- to 10-year working plans to earn a generous income and some intend to quit the industry after that period.
"These people are quite happy with their relationship, not just the money," she says.
"There is a perception out there that miners will quit after two years because they can't cope with the work or it impacts on their social life. So far I have not spoken to anyone who has been in the industry for less than four years and is not happy."
A number of mine workers told Dr Stokes they managed their social life by developing a certain camaraderie with other workers and contacting family and friends on a daily or weekly basis.
FIFO arrangements vary depending on miners' positions and mining camps.
"Some said they would rather work a 12-hour shift and then fly home and rest.
"Young mining families tend to plan their living and working schedule fairly judiciously. They talk to each other, they know what their options are and what they have to do to get there."
A preliminary report on the research is expected at the end of June. A final presentation is due in early September.
Similar research has been done in Western Australia, where one in three fly-in fly-out workers is likely to quit within a year.
Southern media reported that problems with attrition rates, a culture of hard-drug abuse and the lack of family-friendly rosters will be key themes raised during hearings in Perth by the Federal Government's inquiry into FIFO practices in regional Australia.