FIFO families: tips for staying jolly

Early celebrations, special care packages and action-packed video calls are among a range of simple ideas to ensure fly-in/fly-out miners have a jolly Christmas despite being separated from loved ones on 25 December.

Alicia Ranford, co-founder of the online support network Mining Family Matters, has spent five out of 12 Christmases away from her mining engineer husband, and says the experience has made her family more resilient.

“It’s entirely natural for families to feel sad and disappointed when they’re apart for special events, but unfortunately it’s not financially viable for most mining operations to close down just because Santa is on his way,” Mrs Ranford says.

“From our website,, we know that mining families can be incredibly resourceful – last year one couple got the whole family in on the idea that Christmas was early in December, to ensure their toddlers experienced the special day with their mining dad before he left for the mine.

“The toddlers didn’t know what day it was – they just saw that Santa had drunk his milk and knew he’d been down the chimney overnight.”

Mining Family Matters psychologist Angie Willcocks says that when it comes to being separated on Christmas Day – or any relationship pressures associated with mining life – it’s important to remember that children pick up on the emotions of their parents.

“If you feel okay about your partner being away for Christmas, chances are your children will be okay with it as well,” Ms Willcocks says.

“Remember to watch your thinking, stay busy and upbeat and avoid allowing your thoughts and feelings to remain focussed on the fact that you’re apart.”

Mining Family Matters, Australia’s award-winning online support network for families in mining and resources, offers these simple ideas for families who’ll spend Christmas apart this year:

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